Manslaughter or Murder?

NZPA reports:

Crown prosecutor Russell Collins said the defendant and the victim were staying in a small cottage at a farm where his father worked.

The defendant, the victim and two other youths had been hunting on the farm with the 7.62mm semi-automatic.

The defendant was familiar with the weapon, said Mr Collins.

At 4.15pm the defendant, the victim and another youth were in the lounge of a cottage. The third person was playing on a PlayStation while the defendant sat behind the victim.

The firearm was under the table when the youths began discussing whether to go hunting again.

An argument began.

The victim called the defendant an arsehole.

“I’ll shoot you,” said the defendant.

The victim laughed and the defendant took the rifle from the table and loaded it with two bullets.

The victim told the defendant to get the gun out of the way.

The defendant swung the gun around towards the victim and told him he would no longer get cheeky.

The victim turned away and the firearm went off.

The father told his son and the other witness to tell police that the victim had the firearm and that it accidentally discharged as the accused tried to remove it from him, Mr Collins said.

I’m struggling with how this was reduced to manslaughter from . The article says:

The boy was originally charged with murder, but Justice Forrest Miller said an investigation by a police armourer could not exclude the possibility that the firearm was discharged accidentally.

Let us say that the discharge was accidental. But in the context of the defendant saying he would shoot him, loading the gun with bullets, threatening the victim with it, and then pointing it specifically towards the victim – does that really matter? The action of specifically putting bullets in the gun while saying I will shoot you, is very damning to my mind

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