WOODBURNE, N.Y. (CBS 2) — A single shot from Edward Taibi’s rifle changed everything in the winter woods upstate near Swan Lake. He shot and killed a little girl four years ago in a hunting accident.
But now, for the first time, he is talking about that horrific day, in an exclusive interview with CBS 2’s Lou Young.
“It was an accident, Mr. Young. I didn’t come up here with the intent to hurt anyone,” he said.
The deer hunter, behind bars for firing the bullet that killed little Charly Skala, broke his silence about how it happened and the overwhelming horror he felt as the dying toddler’s family confronted him.
“When he said I hit his niece in the neck, that was when I thought I was going take that gun and end my own life. I had one more bullet in that gun. My friend saw what was happening. He ran and grabbed the gun from my hand,” he said.
“Eddie looked suicidal. I removed the weapon from his hand and unloaded the round to make sure it was secure and Eddie was on his knees begging for forgiveness. It was terrible,” said Pete Maltese, Taibi’s hunting companion.
The State of New York said it was an unforgivable mistake, that Taibi, hunting with a high-powered rifle from an elevated deer stand, lost track of his surroundings and accidentally shot the child inside her grandparents’ trailer 500 yards away.
After the first shot, Taibi said he left the deer stand to take a second shot. George Conklin was in the trailer when his granddaughter was mortally wounded.
“He knows he did wrong. He’s a grown man like I said. He aimed a gun at a house, which he should’ve never done,” Conklin said.
In a brutal dose of irony, it was the kind of heartbreak Taibi knows too well. His own daughter died from cancer.
Taibi: “I lost my daughter two years prior to that. I know what they were going through.”
Young: “And you know if you had somebody to blame it wouldn’t be so easy to forgive would it?”
Taibi: “No. Not at all.”
Young: “And now you’re that guy.”
But he is asking for a measure of forgiveness all the same. He said he was promised two years in exchange for his guilty plea and cannot understand why he is still locked up. The parole board turned him down after two years.
“I’m not belittling the death of this little girl, trust me, I’m not. It was an accident, Mr. Young. It was an accident. I’m here facing my responsibilities. Here I am. Someone died. It was my bullet. I took responsibility. My two years are done. Why am I still here?” he said.
Taibi is appealing the parole board’s decision. The 49-year-old tile layer from Howard Beach is now in his third year behind bars for making the worst mistake of his life.
“I’m a prisoner. I did everything right possible in my life not to end up in here and doing something that I love puts me here,” he said.
Taibi’s next scheduled parole hearing won’t take place until the summer of 2013, a minimum four years behind bars.
Taibi said when he’s released he’d like to move back to Howard Beach and teach gun safety.
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