SAN DIEGO -
A 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 not guilty Tuesday to a felony charge of criminal storage of a loaded firearm.
Kevin Brennick, 49, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
He is charged in connection with the death last year of Luke Lipscomb, who 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.
The loaded .22-caliber rifle was left in Brennick's kitchen, according to investigators, who declined to say whether the defendant had a firearms license. No adults were present at the time of the shooting.
According to court documents, Lipscomb was with his friends, including Brennick's son, smoking marijuana the night of the shooting.
Lipscomb 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.
Court documents show Brennick's son left the room to call 911. When he returned, he found Lipscomb on the kitchen floor, his head bloody. Kevin Brennick's gun lay next to him. The other teen left the Brennick house before sheriff's deputies arrived. Lipscomb died 10 days later.
It took almost a year for the charge against Brennick to be filed, which is something that Lipscomb's parents complained about to both investigators and the Poway City Council.
"We do not seek vengeance," Anthony and Lisa Lipscomb wrote in a letter to Sheriff Bill Gore. "Instead, we seek an assignment of responsibility through your enforcement of the law."
The letter was dated April 23, 2012, which is more than five months before the charge was filed against Brennick, who was not home at the time of the shooting.
The unlawful storage charge has as its premise that the accused knew or reasonably should have known that a child was likely to gain access to the firearm without parental permission and thereby caused death or great bodily injury.
"This is a charge that we don't see very frequently," Deputy District Attorney Rachel Cano said outside the courtroom.
Brennick -- who is out of custody on his own recognizance -- will be back in court Nov. 28 for a readiness conference and on Dec. 11 for a preliminary hearing.
If convicted, Brennick faces up to three years behind bars.
A hearing is scheduled Tuesday in Juvenile Court on the matter, but prosecutors will not say what, if any, charges could be filed, or against whom.