Bostic case sent to grand jury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NATCHEZ — New facts emerged Tuesday in a negligent homicide case involving the death of a 13-year-old boy at the hand of his older brother.

Preston Bostic, 19, appeared at a pretrial hearing in Adams County justice court for charges of culpable-negligent manslaughter and felony possession of a stolen firearm.

Judge Charlie Vess ruled the pretrial hearing presented enough evidence for a grand jury to hear the case.

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Preston was arrested in November after confessing to accidentally shooting his brother, Juwayni Bostic, at their house. Preston was 18 at the time of his arrest.

Preston has been at the Adams County jail since the Nov. 28 incident on a $275,000 bond.

Preston did not take the stand at the pretrial hearing, which focused on the testimony of the case’s lead investigator, Sheriff’s Office Detective Robert Brown.

County Prosecutor Barrett Martin asked for Preston’s statements to be entered into evidence.

Brown said Preston admitted he and his 17-year-old brother, who was also at the scene, were smoking marijuana before the shooting in a bedroom adjacent to the room where Juwayni was shot.

Some of the other witnesses at the residence also verified Preston and the 17-year-old sibling were smoking marijuana at the time of the incident. Witnesses at the scene included Bostic siblings, ages 17, 16, 14 and 10.

Preston nor the 17-year-old were tested for marijuana, and no drugs were found at the scene, Brown said.

Brown said Preston signed at least four statements at different points during the investigation and apparently changed his story a few times about what happened from the first statement to the last one.

Brown said Preston said in one statement that he dropped the gun, causing it to fire.

Brown said 9-mm Smith and Wesson handgun like the one used in the incident has up to three safety features.

In Preston’s last written statement, he admitted, “I had just took the clip out (of the) gun and laid it on the dresser, and I swirled the gun around (in his hand),”

when gun disarmed, Brown said.

Brown also said witnesses said two shots were fired the day of the incident, and two empty casings were found at the scene.

Vess asked if the gun was a single or double-action gun.

Brown said he did not know.

Vess said he signed an affidavit on a model 59 gun during the investigation, which is a double-action weapon.

Martin said the gun probably had back-up safety features.

“This was a police-type gun,” Martin said.

“Was it obvious that the gun accidentally discharged?” Vess asked Brown.

“Yes. There is no proof (Preston) intentionally, for no reason at all, shot his brother,” Brown said.

Brown said the incident was negligent and no proof exists to suggest otherwise.

“(Preston) made a head shot between the eyes at eight feet as an accident … If that’s what you (to Brown) say we’re sticking to it,” Vess said.

The pretrial hearing also addressed possession of a stolen firearm charge.

Brown said Preston told investigators his 17-year-old brother scratched serial numbers off the gun. Martin said scratching the serial numbers is a felony offense that he plans to pursue against the 17-year-old.

Sheriff’s office investigator Maj. Ricky Stevens apparently used acid to view the serial numbers, which revealed enough of the code to determine it was stolen from local pawn shop, The Barracks.

Brown said Preston told investigators his Juwayni told him some time ago he had stolen the gun while his mother was selling jewelry at the shop. The gun was underneath glass, and Preston said Juwayni told him he went behind the counter, reached in and took it, Brown said.

Preston apparently told investigators Juwayni offered him the gun in exchange for something. The gun might have been traded for candy, Brown said.

The gun theft from the pawn shop occurred four to five months before the incident, according to Preston, Brown said.

Vess said he was surprised a $500 gun was not identified as missing at the pawn shop after four to five months.

Martin said investigations revealed that Preston has reportedly illegally sold at least two guns in the past.

Brown said more bullet holes were found in and around the house, which were not necessarily associated with the day of the incident.

Martin asked Vess to consider ramifications of sending Preston back to an environment at home that could be potentially harmful.

Public defender Scott Pintard argued Preston comes from a loving family, evidenced by his parents’ support in the courtroom Tuesday.

“When you combine drugs and guns, it can’t be a good situation,” Vess said.

Pintard said bond should ensure the suspect appears at his or her next trial, not to judge a home environment.

“Half of Natchez needs to be in jail if that’s true,” Pintard said.

Pintard said Preston said in his statement he is sorry for what happened to his brother and wished it were him instead of his brother who died.

Vess ruled Preston’s bond be lowered to $75,000, with $50,000 for the manslaughter charge and $25,000 for possession of a stolen firearm.

Vess told Preston that he had a 9 p.m. curfew, must not “hang with felons,” cannot be around guns, cannot leave the house without one of his parents and cannot drink or do drugs.

Preston remained in jail as of Tuesday night.