NEWPORT BEACH — A judge agreed to release a Costa Mesa man from jail as he awaits trial on charges that he fatally wounded his 15-year-old daughter while cleaning a gun.
Newport Beach Municipal Judge Craig E. Robison set two conditions Friday before freeing David Curtis Stinson, 39, on his own recognizance. Stinson must turn over his weapons to Costa Mesa police and enroll in an alcoholism counseling program.
Stinson's mother and two sisters held hands in court Friday as Stinson's attorney described his client as a good father and called the shooting a tragedy.
"To have this man stay in this cell after losing his daughter, especially after losing her by his own hand, is more difficult than any of us can imagine," Deputy Public Defender Ron Klar told the judge.
Stinson is charged with involuntary manslaughter for the death of his daughter, Collister. Authorities said the teen-ager was shot in the neck last week while the father was cleaning or checking a gun as the two talked in his room. Police said Stinson had been drinking before the incident.
Klar acknowledged that there is evidence Stinson had been drinking. Stinson sometimes visited a bar two or three times a week, he said, but he denied that his client has any drinking problem. Stinson has never shown up for work at the Pacific World Cosmetic Co. in Costa Mesa inebriated or with the smell of alcohol on his breath, he said.
Authorities are awaiting the results of a blood-alcohol test to decide whether he was intoxicated the night of the shooting.
Stinson, who kept his head bowed and eyes downcast throughout the proceeding, raised Collister by himself since the girl was 9 years old, friends and family said outside the courtroom. He often declined social engagements to spend time with her.
"He did everything he could for her," said Stinson's mother, Anne. "She loved him."
"She came before anybody," said Dana Johnson, Stinson's sister.
Before the shooting, Stinson had led a simple life that revolved around his daughter and his work, said his friend, Randy Gardner. Gardner said Stinson was noted for being responsible and down to earth.
"It doesn't make sense that something like this could happen," Gardner said. "If the bullet hadn't struck his daughter, maybe they could have laughed about it in three months. I think we've all been in situations where something tragic could have happened. The lucky ones are still walking around."
Deputy Dist. Atty. Clyde Von Der Ahe agreed to the two conditions for Stinson's release from Orange County Jail, where the father has been held in lieu of $25,000 bail. Stinson was expected to be released over the weekend or Monday, depending on when the conditions could be met.
If convicted of involuntary manslaughter and an additional charge of using a firearm, prosecutors say, Stinson could face nine years in state prison.
Stinson is scheduled to be returned to court Nov. 21 for an arraignment hearing.