POLSON, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to fatally shooting a 3-year-old boy with a gun he didn't think was loaded as the two played together.
Galen Hawk, of St. Ignatius, entered the plea to a negligent-homicide charge in Lonato Moran-Allen's Oct. 22 death.
Prosecutors allege Hawk, 26, had been drinking when he saw the boy holding his gun and took it away. Hawk told authorities the boy then ran away and looked back at him while pretending to shoot a toy gun. Hawk said he pointed his gun at the child and pulled the trigger, believing the weapon wasn't loaded because the magazine was in his pocket.
The boy was shot in the back and died weeks before his fourth birthday.
District Judge James Manley set a March 2 trial. Hawk remains jailed on $100,000 bail.
Hawk's public defender, Matt Pavelich, was in court Wednesday afternoon and was not immediately available for comment.
Hawk also pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a felony DUI charge filed after a Dec. 29, 2013, traffic stop. His trial in that case is set for Feb. 17.