The attorney for a man charged with two felonies after his 4-year-old son accidentally shot and killed his toddler sibling with a loaded handgun says the case against his client "reeks of injustice," and that a family's grief is being used to politicize the case.
Attorney Steven Meshbesher's comments came shortly before Kao Chongsua Xiong, 31, was expected to be released from the Hennepin County jail after posting $10,000 bail. He was charged Thursday with second-degree manslaughter and child endangerment in the Dec. 5 death of his 2-year-old son, Neegnco Xiong. The boy's brother found a loaded gun stashed next to a mattress between a pillow and a headboard. It was one of eight guns police found in the home.
Meshbesher said the fact that Xiong's bond was $10,000, rather than the $150,000 requested by prosecutors, points to the "ridiculous" amount that was requested in a case of a grieving father who has been cooperative with police. He criticized a Thursday news conference by County Attorney Mike Freeman in which Freeman announced the charges and in part attributed Neegnco's death to "gross and reckless disregard" for the child's safety.
"This is a suffering family from an accident that does not rise to the level of a crime from what I can see, and they are going through the most painful period," Meshbesher said. "Mr. Freeman's news conference only made that pain worse by politicizing this case."
Meshbesher said the Xiongs, immigrants from Southeast Asia, have never committed any crimes and are frightened and confused.
"It's one tragedy upon another," he said. "One tragedy they can barely get their head around, and then this tragedy comes up that has a political component to it which they just don't understand."
The guns are now out of the home, Meshbesher said.
He declined to speculate on how the case would play out, adding: "I certainly know this is a defendable person and a defendable case, and I plan on defending it in a courtroom, not the media."
A spokesman said Freeman was unavailable for comment Friday evening.
Abby Simons • 612-673-4921