Lawyer: NJ dad of boy who shot pal waives hearing

AP News
Posted: May 15, 2013 5:43 PM

TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey man charged with child endangerment after his young son shot to death a 6-year-old playmate waived his right to an initial court appearance and is cooperating with authorities, his lawyer said Wednesday.

But the attorney also criticized a prosecutor's handling of his client's arrest, which he said came without warning while he was having dinner with his family.

Anthony Senatore, 33, would have voluntarily turned himself in had he been asked to, attorney Robert Ebberup said in a statement Wednesday.

Ebberup said it was "confusing and disturbing that the Atlantic County prosecutor deemed it necessary to have Mr. Senatore made such a spectacle at his residence and in front of his children" when he was arrested Monday.

Ebberup said his client should have had a chance to surrender, calling it a generally acceptable protocol.

Acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain defended the arrest in a statement and said his office has a longstanding practice of not negotiating the surrender of defendants.

Allowing some people to surrender would "create two classes of defendants based upon the ability to pay an attorney," McClain said.

"The arrest of Mr. Senatore was accomplished in an appropriate and thoroughly professional manner," McClain said.

Authorities have said Senatore's 4-year-old son took a loaded .22-caliber rifle from a bedroom in their Toms River home April 8 and fatally wounded neighbor Brandon Holt while they were playing outdoors.

Senatore faces six charges for child endangerment and failing to secure weapons after authorities also found four shotguns close to ammunition and accessible to Senatore's three children. His other children are 12 and 8 years old.

The next court date for Senatore hasn't been set. He is free on $100,000 bail.

Ebberup said the Senatore family "are deeply sorrowed" over Holt's death.

"Outside of the Holt family, no other person or family or family grieves more over the loss of Brandon," Ebberup's statement said. "There is not a one day that passes where my client does not feel the pain and sorrow over the loss of such a wonderful child."

Attempts to reach the Holt family Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Though the shooting occurred in Ocean County, Atlantic County is handling the investigation because Senatore has relatives who have worked in law enforcement in Ocean County, according to Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Ocean County prosecutor's office.