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Guilty plea from Poway man whose loaded rifle was used by son's friend in shooting death

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A Poway man whose son was at their home with a 17-year-old friend who shot himself to death with a loaded rifle left in the defendant's kitchen pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of improper storage of a loaded firearm and was immediately sentenced to three years probation.

Kevin Brennick, 50, must take parenting and firearm safety classes and perform 40 hours of community service. He can apply to have the conviction dismissed after successfully completing 18 months on probation.

The premise of the unlawful storage charge was that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known that a child was likely to gain access to the firearm without parental permission and thereby cause death or great bodily injury.

Brennick will not be allowed to own or possess firearms while he's on probation, said his attorney, Michael Crowley.

Brennick did the "noble" thing by admitting guilt in the case involving the death of Luke Lipscomb, even though he had viable defenses had the case gone to trial, Crowley said.

"It would have put the family of the Lipscombs through a great deal of extra anguish and he's very sorry for the loss of their son and what happened at his home," Crowley said outside the courtroom. "He (Brennick) agreed to have some closure both for the family and for himself on this case."

Crowley said Brennick has changed his opinion about guns and now does not favor having firearms in any residence.

Most of Brennick's firearms were secured in safes in his home, but the .22-caliber rifle used in Lipscomb's death was left unsecured in the kitchen and was used by the defendant to keep "varmints" away from his backyard in rural Poway, Crowley said.

Even though Brennick will do no jail time, Crowley said the plea was an "acceptable" disposition of the case and said Brennick accepted responsibility for what he did.

A civil action is pending, Crowley said.

The attorney said the Lipscombs and the Brennicks were "close" before Luke Lipscomb died. Crowley said the Lipscombs have since moved out of the neighborhood.

The teen shot himself between the eyes on Nov. 4, 2011, in Brennick's home on Midland Road. The Poway High School junior died at a hospital two weeks later. No adults were present at the time of the shooting.

According to court documents, the boy was with his friends, including Brennick's son, smoking marijuana the night of the shooting.

He began hallucinating -- possibly because the cannabis was laced with a designer drug -- and hit himself in the head with a frying pan before shooting himself, according to a search warrant affidavit.

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