A Johnston County man charged in the accidental shooting of a teenager will serve between one and two years in prison. Robert Furey pleaded guilty earlier this month to involuntary manslaughter, and Judge Tom Lock sentenced him to 13-25 months behind bars.
Furey, of 200 David Road, Wendell, was charged in the death of his neighbor, Nickolas Exley, 15. Furey will also have to pay the victim’s family to cover funeral costs.
Police responded to a 911 call from Furey on Dec. 21. They found Exley dead at the scene.
According to a Sheriff’s Office report, Furey told investigators he was alone in his house when Exley and a friend walked in unannounced. Furey said he was sitting in the dark watching a movie when he heard someone walk in the door. He said he grabbed his rifle and tried to fire a warning shot but accidentally hit Exley in the head.
Furey told 911 dispatchers he wasn’t expecting company. “Oh, my God. Someone was trying to come in my door, and I didn’t know what was going on,” he told dispatchers.
But Exley’s friend, who was at the scene when deputies arrived, said Furey accidentally shot Exley while showing them his rifle. Investigators said Furey had been drinking at the time of the shooting.
Exley, who was a freshman at Corinth Holders High School, is survived by his mother, Vicki, and grandmother, Noreen Perry.
This was not Furey’s first run-in with law enforcement over firearm misuse. Last November, a neighbor called the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office claiming Furey had fired into his house.
Deputies found two bullet holes in a bedroom wall of the neighbor’s house, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Tammy Amaon..
The neighbor decided not to press charges, she said. Deputies left the neighbor to negotiate damages with Furey.
Furey’s criminal record includes three convictions for driving while impaired dating back to 1988. The most recent one, in Wake County, came in 2011.
The accidental shooting highlights the importance of safe firearm handling, Amaon said. Gun owners should keep their weapons unloaded when showing them to someone else, she said.
Drinking before handling a gun is also a bad idea.
“Guns and alcohol don’t mix,” she said.
Staff writer Johnny Whitfield contributed.