Frank A. Hanna, 29, accused of shooting 20-year-old Freddie Stephens with a .44-caliber handgun on May 24, was turned over to the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department on Tuesday, preparatory to being indicted by the county for the shooting. Mr. Hanna’s attorney, Susan Menu, said this week that further investigation was needed before an indictment occurs.
A spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, Robert Clifford, said on Tuesday that police have recovered the slug that shattered Mr. Stephens’s arm in the basement of a house at 154 Springs-Fireplace Road, along with three shotguns, 10 cases of shotgun shells, an AK 47-style rifle, two banana clips, and a case of ammunition for the rifle.
Police have yet to find the weapon used in the shooting.
“We have not recovered a .44-caliber weapon,” East Hampton Town Det. Lieut. Christopher Anderson said yesterday. “The matter is still under investigation.”
“[Mr. Hanna] is a grown-ass man,” said Tieya Bacon, Mr. Stephens’s mother. “He shouldn’t be playing with guns,” she said last Thursday in an impromptu press conference outside East Hampton Town Court. “Some people just don’t care.”
Ms. Bacon was sitting on one side of the courtroom earlier that day as Mr. Hanna was arraigned before Justice Lisa Rana. Mr. Hanna’s mother, family, and friends were seated on the other side.
When Justice Rana asked the prosecutor if Mr. Stephens needed an order of protection against Mr. Hanna, Ms. Bacon could be heard saying, “No. No,” indicating that the shooting had been an accident.
But after the arraignment, during which Mr. Hanna was charged with criminal possession of a weapon in the third degree and assault in the second degree, both Class D felonies, as well as menacing, a misdemeanor, Ms. Bacon, while asserting that the shooting was accidental, was clearly livid.
According to her account, Mr. Hanna was holding a .44-caliber handgun when her son walked through the door. Mr. Hanna, she said, raised the gun and pointed it at Mr. Stephens’s head; then dropped his aim slightly and squeezed the trigger, thinking the safety was on.
It wasn’t, she said, and the gun went off, the bullet bursting through Mr. Stephens’s arm and entering his torso.
According to Ms. Bacon, if Mr. Hanna had squeezed the trigger a split second earlier, “I’d be burying him today,” she said. “You don’t play with guns.” Ms. Bacon claimed that Mr. Hanna had been playing with a variety of weapons in the house that day, and that he had earlier in the day “tasered someone.” She said her son might never regain use of his arm. He was released from Stony Brook University Medical Center on Monday.
On Tuesday, Mr. Hanna, with Ms. Menu by his side, appeared again in Justice Court, this time before Justice Catherine A. Cahill, and waived his right to go before a grand jury within 120 hours, as is required by the state penal code (144 hours if a weekend is involved), or be released. That will give both the prosecution and the defense an extension of time to conduct a thorough investigation.
Mr. Hanna’s attorney, Susan Menu, said yesterday that further investigation was needed before an indictment occurs. “There is so little information,” she said. “These people were friends. This is a very unfortunate incident. I think everybody regrets it.”
Before setting bail last Thursday, Justice Rana huddled with Ms. Menu over Mr. Hanna’s police record. She referenced two previous convictions in the discussion before deciding on the amount for bail.
Ms. Menu argued for Justice Rana to set bail at $2,500, noting Mr. Hanna’s long residence in the community.
The prosecutor asked for $75,000. Justice Rana set the initial bail at $50,000, cash. Mr. Hanna remained in the county jail as of this week.