DANVILLE — Area students could learn about the dangers of playing with guns from someone who learned the hard way.
Earlier this month, Vermilion County Circuit Judge Tom O’Shaughnessy ordered Christopher S. Stanley, 19, of Danville, to offer to speak to Vermilion County schools on the dangers of gunplay as part of his sentence for accidentally shooting his friend to death last December.
The judge sentenced Stanley to two years of probation after he pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter, a Class 3 felony, in the Dec. 8, 2018, fatal shooting of Austin Rey Camareno, 19, of Danville.
An additional count of reckless discharge of a firearm, a Class 4 felony, as well as reckless conduct and not having a firearm owner’s identification card, both misdemeanors, were dismissed.
Stanley was ordered to serve four days in jail and credited with already having served two of them. He was also ordered to pay a $1,889 fine.
“This was a very difficult case for everyone involved — not only the victim’s family, but the defendant’s family, too,” said State’s Attorney Jacqueline Lacy. “The victim and the defendant were friends, and they were both very young.”
If the case had gone to trial, Lacy said she would have presented evidence showing that early in the morning of Dec. 8, 2018, Stanley, then 18, and Mr. Camareno were hanging out at Stanley’s house in the 800 block of Warrington Avenue, just west of Danville.
“They’d both been smoking marijuana and were playing with a .38-caliber revolver. Ultimately, while playing around and acting recklessly, the defendant shot the victim in the chest,” Lacy said, adding that Stanley took his friend to the hospital.
Lacy said she would also have called Illinois State Police crime-scene investigators and forensic pathologist Dr. Scott Denton, who would have testified that Mr. Camareno died of a perforating gunshot wound to the chest.
Mr. Camareno was a 2018 graduate of Schlarman Academy, where he was a four-year varsity letterman on the baseball team, and played other sports.
While Mr. Camareno’s parents didn’t attend Stanley’s hearing, Lacy said a family friend read a victim-impact statement written by his mother, Jennifer Gill.
Gill expressed how she’ll never be able to see her son, see his smile or hear his laugh again.
“I lost my son in a horrific accidental shooting — an accident that never should have taken place,” she wrote. “Do I believe Christopher Stanley needs to be incarcerated for what happened? On my hardest days, absolutely so. But when I step back and put myself in the shoes of Christopher Stanley and his family, I think about how I would not want my son to pay a sentence in prison if the tables were turned.”
Gill went on to request what she considered a more fitting consequence.
“Christopher should be required to speak to our young generation in this community about gun safety and how fast something can happen when not using proper handling instructions of a firearm,” she wrote.
O’Shaughnessy said while he couldn’t order the schools to require that, he could certainly order Stanley to offer to speak to their students on the topic.