On Monday, Todd Francis took a plea deal that avoids a trial, but he could still go to prison.
On June 4, two young kids were playing with Francis’ 9mm handgun in the garage of his condo. Police said his 9-year-old daughter had the gun when it accidentally fired, killing 10-year-old Eric Klyaz, a neighbor.
“I still feel horrible about what happened. I just want the truth to get out,” said Francis in a phone interview.
The 56-year-old Francis pleaded guilty to two counts of child endangerment. After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Matthew Dix talked to the media and said the kids found the gun lying on a couch and loaded.
“He’s trying to say there’s conclusive evidence that I left a loaded handgun just sitting out in the open, in a garage where children play. I just did not do that,” argued Francis.
Francis maintains he hid the gun and it was not loaded.
He said the prosecution’s case was based on the interrogation of his traumatized daughter, before she could talk to her parents or an attorney.
“Obviously, she thinks she’s in a world of trouble and she said she thinks she saw a gun on a couch. They’ve based their entire case against me based on that testimony,” Francis said.
Despite his frustration with the city’s case, Francis stands by his decision to take a plea deal — in order to avoid a trial.
“Obviously, I have to cave in because I’m not going to have my daughter have to be dragged into a courtroom and give testimony,” said Francis.
Francis won’t speculate how the gun was found. He admits he made a mistake and is trying to make amends.
“I should not have had that gun outside of a safe. I had it hidden, but that’s not good enough,” said Francis. “I was going about it in a way that was dangerous and it caused somebody to die. I definitely want to take responsibility for that.”