By Leisa Zigman, I-Team Reporter
ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - Seven members of 18-year-old Matthew Pellegrini's family spoke through tears at a sentencing hearing in St. Louis Circuit Court Thursday. Each family member asked the judge to reject a plea agreement made without their consent.
"In my opinion, it is an open and shut case," said Angelo Pellegrini, Matthew's father. "He put the gun to Matthew's head and pulled the trigger knowing it was loaded and it could kill him."
Prosecutors first charged Kevin Beindorff with second-degree murder after he admitted to killing Pellegrini on February 21, 2012. A grand jury indicted him for a lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. Beindorff said he shot Pellegrini after he asked to be killed, but thought it would land on an empty chamber. He has maintained the shooting was an accident.
"The loss of a child is horrific. But to hear that he put it up to his head and pulled the trigger and claims 'I thought it would hit an empty chamber?' Maybe he should have tested it on himself first?" Inkley said. "That is how I look at that. If that's what you believe, you should have tried it out on you and see how that works out for you. Because didn't work out so well for my son."
Beindorff's plea deal would give him seven years for manslaughter and three years for armed criminal action, which would run concurrently. With time served, he could be out in three to four years.
In court, Beindorff apologized to the family and for the pain he has caused. He reiterated it was an accident and he takes full responsibility.
Pellegrini's parents hope the judge in the case will give him 20 to 30 years in prison and ignore the plea agreement.
According to a spokesperson for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, in order to get a conviction for murder, prosecutors would have to prove beyond any doubt that Beindorff intended to kill Matthew Pellegrini.
In a statement, Joyce said, "While the impact of this tragedy on Mr. Pellegrini's family has been tremendous, under our legal system charging decisions are made by objective prosecutors based on the evidence available and the application of the laws of the State of Missouri."
Judge Edward Sweeny said based on the victim's family's statements and the severity of the crime, he wanted to take a week before deciding whether to accept the plea agreement. According to a spokesperson from the circuit attorney's office, "It would be rare for a judge to reject a plea agreement."
Judge Sweeny can accept the agreement. He could also reject the agreement and give him up to life in prison under the armed criminal action charge. Beindorff could then choose to go to trial if he doesn't like the sentence the judge assigns.
The judge will make his ruling next Friday, April 19, 2013.
After court, several members of the Pellegrini family handed their victim impact statements to the I-Team's Leisa Zigman, who reported on the case Wednesday.