Lewiston man faces 2nd trial in May

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AUBURN – A Lewiston man who claims he accidentally shot one of his best friends is expected to stand trial for the second time on manslaughter charges.

Prosecutors say Brandon Knight, 21, was criminally negligent or recklessly caused the death of Shawn Fitzsimmons when he shot the 24-year-old man in the head in 2004.

A jury deadlocked 8-4 over Knight’s verdict last year at his manslaughter trial. He was indicted again by an Androscoggin County grand jury in February.

The two men were sitting around a friend’s Lewiston apartment one night when one of the friends talked about her gun, according to testimony at the first trial. Knight asked to look at it. She showed him how it worked, including how to cock it. He tried it and fired the empty weapon. Then she took it back and put it in her bedroom.

The woman said she later loaded the 9 mm Llama semiautomatic pistol with six bullets and put it away without telling Knight or the others.

He retrieved the gun, cocked it and walked into the living room. He pointed the gun at Fitzsimmons and pulled the trigger.

He told the jury he thought the gun was still unloaded. A state police firearms expert testified that someone inexperienced with firearms might not notice the clip in the gun’s handle and wouldn’t see the tip of the bullet in the chamber prior to firing.

Knight had re-enacted the events for police when questioned after the shooting.

The case appears on the May list for a jury trial in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

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