Robert William Duda, 44, Coal Lick Run, Uniontown, stipulated Friday before Somerset District Judge Ken Johnson that the prosecution had enough evidence to send the charges to Somerset County court for a trial. He was released on his own recognizance by Johnson.
State police said Duda was cleaning a .380-caliber handgun at a computer desk in his living room on Sept. 15. According to a probable-cause affidavit, Bryan Duda, 14, and his father were joking around. Duda pointed the firearm, which he thought was unloaded, in the direction of his son, who was lying on the couch, and the firearm discharged. A bullet went into the boy's right side below his armpit, police said. Duda and the boy's mother rushed their son to Somerset Hospital, where he died a short time later.
At least four other people, including a 4-month-old child, were in the home when the shooting occurred, according to the affidavit.
State police charged Duda on Oct. 17.
"Mr. Duda has been very cooperative," Cpl. Edward Thomas said at the hearing. "He already signed over the firearm to us."
The involuntary manslaughter charge is a misdemeanor. If convicted, Duda faces a maximum sentence of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
"It is a tragic event that nobody should have to deal with," said Assistant District Attorney Hannah Myers. "Unfortunately it is a reality here today. No matter what the outcome of the case, it will serve some good if it can bring awareness of the danger and the risk of firearms."
Duda was not present at his preliminary hearing. He was sent a summons with the charges. His attorney, Brian Salisbury of Uniontown, said he could not comment at this time.
Thomas said the tragic event is a reminder to use safety precautions when handling a firearm.
"Always be aware of your surroundings and never point a firearm at anybody, no matter if you think the firearm is unloaded."