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HomeLocal NewsNew MexicoTrial for father charged under Bennie's Law starts Monday

Trial for father charged under Bennie’s Law starts Monday

QUESTA, N.M. (KRQE) – The trial involving the first person to be charged under Bennie’s Law is set to start Monday. William Brown is accused of negligently making a firearm available to a minor, resulting in the death of a teen in Questa. KRQE News 13 spoke with the district attorney overseeing the case who says it could set a precedent for future cases. 

“Well a lot of the pressure comes from the tragic loss of life I mean a young lady has been taken and it’s impacted a community of family,” said Marcus Montoya, Eighth Judicial District Attorney.     

William Brown, 39, is the first person being tried under Bennie’s Law for negligently making a firearm available to a minor resulting in death. “This new piece of legislation. Not having any guidance, no precedent, no authority, no real blue print, having seen it done before, I think that’s the most unnerving part of, if you will, trying a case like this,” said Montoya. 

According to State Police, four juveniles were at Brown’s home listening to music when his 14-year-old son pulled out a gun and shot a teen girl in July 2023. William Brown was then arrested under Bennie’s Law. Without previous cases, state attorneys are taking precautions and looking to other states for guidance. 

“Many of us are familiar with the case out of Michigan, where the parents were both prosecuted for involuntary manslaughter. Our statute does not read similarly to Michigan’s you know. So we’re pulling from other case law from other states where parents have been prosecuted for situations like this,” said Montoya. 

Representative Pamelya Herndon was the lawmaker behind Bennie’s Law which passed last year. She says the bill’s main purpose is to keep minors safe.  “What is important to notice is that this bill is being utilized for the purpose for which it was intended, if indeed there is a situation where a firearm was not stored safely, this piece of legislation will come into play and we want people to remember that there is a possible penalty if you don’t store your guns safely,” said Representative Pamelya Herndon (D) Bernalillo.      

Jury selection is set to begin Monday, followed by the state presenting its case. Brown is facing a fourth-degree felony which comes with 18 months of maximum incarceration. “We just hope to put on a professional and prepared case, let the facts and law fall as they may and then let this piece of legislation evolve as it should,” said Montoya. 

Brown’s son, Porfirio Brown, was previously on trial for a second-degree murder charge related to that shooting, but that trial ended in a hung jury in March. Porfirio is also expected to go back to trial in August. 

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