NORWICH, Conn. (AP) – A Jewett City couple entered not guilty pleas Tuesday to charges related to the death of their 2-year-old son, who accidentally shot himself with his father’s gun.

Rebecca and Jason Matteau were arraigned in Norwich Superior Court in their first appearance before a state judge since their arrests Sept. 17. The couple, who have posted bail, were told to return to court Nov. 19.

State police say Wyatt Matteau shot himself in the head by accident on Aug. 28 with his father’s .40-caliber handgun, which he took from a night stand next to his parents’ bed while his father was sleeping. Rebecca Matteau told her son to stay away from the gun moments before the accident, warning him that it was “Bad Boo Boo’s,” a police report says.

Rebecca Matteau, 24, and Jason Matteau, 27, declined to comment as they left the courthouse Tuesday. They’re charged with negligent storage of a firearm and risk of injury to a minor, and they face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of both felonies.

Their lawyers, William H. Paetzold and Christopher McCarthy, said they were still preparing for the case and declined further comment.

After the accident, officials removed the couple’s infant daughter from their custody and placed her with a relative.

Wayne West, Rebecca Matteau’s uncle and a former neighbor, said Tuesday that he had been worried about the loaded gun in the couple’s home.

“They call this an accident,” West said. “I don’t. I call it negligent homicide. This was preventable. I warned him about the gun and unfortunately look who paid the price.”

West said he hopes the case raises awareness of gun safety issues.


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