This week, Larry Jay Reed was sentenced to 15 years in prison plus five years of probation in the 2010 shooting death of his pregnant girlfriend, Anastasia Boyd. A jury found Reed guilty of manslaughter after trial this spring.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys both agreed at trial that Reed never intended to shoot Boyd. Reed told a detective he jokingly pointed the gun at Boyd while she was talking on the telephone, and later said Boyd herself had twirled the gun when it went off. But Reed also told police a different version of the story, saying the gun went off when he was attempting to unload it in a home in St. Petersburg.
It was this final account that prompted the prosecutor's arguments at trial. Under Florida law, a person can be found guilty of manslaughter if they "intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death" of the victim. The prosecutor argued that Reed's intentional act was attempting to unload his handgun, which was pointed just 18 to 24 inches away. Defense attorneys countered that the act of unloading the weapon was intended to make it safer, which is the opposite of being careless.
Under Florida law, a person also can be found guilty of manslaughter if they are so reckless as to demonstrate "culpable negligence." This would typically apply in a case where someone played Russian roulette or wildly waved a gun. Prosecutors said that pointing a firearm at someone only inches away is reckless.
Fifteen years was the maximum sentence the court could have imposed upon Reed following his conviction.