Chesapeake Marine guilty of accidentally killing infant child
By Matthew Bowers
© June 25, 2010
A combat veteran of three tours in Iraq accidentally killed his 9-month-old daughter earlier this year when he was practicing drawing his loaded handgun in their home.
It fired, striking the girl in the face as she sat in her high-chair eating fruit.
And for that, 26-year-old Colton Jack Luman pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter.
"This is a case on the highest order of sadness," Circuit Court Judge V. Thomas Forehand Jr. said. He scheduled Luman's sentencing hearing for Oct. 25.
There was no plea agreement. Luman faces up to 10 years in prison, although Virginia's nonbinding sentencing guidelines suggest no jail time in such circumstances, said Luman's lawyer, David Allmond.
Makenna Luman died Feb. 21 after being shot in the family home on the Norfolk Naval Support Activity, Northwest Annex base on the North Carolina line.
According to the three-page summary of evidence, Colton Luman's wife and 2-year-old daughter were upstairs about 10 a.m. when they heard the shot.
His wife ran screaming to get a neighbor, and together they attempted CPR before a rescue crew arrived. Makenna died at a hospital less than two hours later.
Colton Luman told police he carried a concealed weapon with a bullet in the chamber at all times.
He initially said that he was lifting Makenna out of her chair when his gun started to slip out of its holster, they both reached for it and the girl brushed against it, causing it to fire.
But later that day, he admitted that he was watching television and "dry firing," or drawing his handgun and aiming at candles on the wall. He said he had his hand on the trigger but was not intentionally pulling it back, and the gun went off as he was preparing to reholster the weapon, the stipulation said.
A crime laboratory determined that the .45-caliber Glock handgun was in good working order, court records show.
The bullet, found near the refrigerator, passed through the girl's hand and face before exiting through her shoulder, Chief Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Lori Galbraith said in court.
Colton Luman, an eight-year veteran, was assigned to the Marine Corps Security Force Regiment in Norfolk. He also has worked in gun shops, he told Judge Forehand.
"You've worked in gun shops?" the judge repeated.
Luman had always wanted to be a Marine, and several fellow Marines accompanied him to court, said Allmond, his lawyer. Luman is undergoing counseling through the service, Allmond added.
The Luman family was planning a trip to the zoo that day, he said.
"It's a tragic accident, and the repercussions are far-reaching beyond this courthouse," Allmond said. "He lost his daughter....
"He's got his own kind of prison and own kind of hell to go through."