Boy testifies in child abuse case
A 13-year-old boy testified on Tuesday that his stepfather had him hold a pistol to his head to teach him that suicide wasn’t a joke.
The Gardnerville boy was 12 when Christian Jay Sharpsteen allegedly also had him write his name on one bullet and “dad” on another.
“He told me (if) I ever committed suicide to use that bullet and that he would use the other bullet to kill himself,” the boy said as he wiped away a tear. “He told me to keep it and he would keep his.”
The boy testified to mixed reactions at the incidents that occurred between Aug. 1 and Sept. 22, 2018.
“I was glad he cared enough that he wouldn’t live on Earth without me, but I was also worried.”
The boy was the first witness in a jury trial that commenced on Tuesday in Douglas County District Court.
Sharpsteen, 35, who now lives in North Carolina, is facing two felony counts of child abuse or neglect.
Selection of the nine-man, five-woman jury took Tuesday morning.
During his opening statement, prosecutor Matthew Johnson showed the jury the .45 caliber bullet the boy wrote his name on.
He argued that the boy put the bullet in the window of his bedroom and could see it at all times.
The boy testified that he’d had suicidal thoughts and that he’d told Sharpsteen.
The boy told jurors that he knew the .45 was unloaded and the safety was engaged when he put the gun to his head.
Sharpsteen is represented by Reno attorney Karena Dunn, who reserved her opening argument until she presented her case.
Sharpsteen is out of custody.