The son of Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy this summer avoided misdemeanor charges that were filed when prosecutors determined he illegally possessed the 9 mm handgun with which he shot himself.
A Douglas County Court judge dismissed the charges filed against Joel R. Sheehy at the request of City Prosecutor Marty Conboy.
Conboy moved to dismiss the charges — possession of an unregistered firearm and failure to appear in court — during an Aug. 25 court hearing because, he said, Sheehy was preparing to comply with the law.
Conboy's conclusion that Sheehy's gun was not registered contradicts a statement issued by the Governor's Office on the night of the Feb. 2 shooting.
Jen Rae Hein, a spokeswoman for Gov. Dave Heineman, wrote in a statement that the gun was registered to Joel Sheehy, who she said had a permit to purchase firearms.
"I was going off the best information I had at the time," Hein said. She referred other questions to Michael Kelley, Joel Sheehy's attorney.
The day of the shooting, police seized at least three other guns that belonged to Sheehy from his Omaha apartment. They were properly registered, Conboy said.
Sheehy, 22, a college student, has had at least one surgery since the shooting, which broke his jaw.
Hospital staff told police that the wound was above the upper lip and exited behind the back of his right ear. Sheehy had surgery to repair facial fractures.
Attempts to reach Joel Sheehy for comment were unsuccessful.
Kelley described the shooting as an accident.
He said Sheehy had intended to register the gun earlier. Sheehy bought the weapon Jan. 29.
Kelley said a snowstorm prevented his client from registering the weapon between the time of the purchase and the shooting.
"He wasn't able to get out his own driveway," Kelley said.
Conboy said his decision to drop the charges was based in part on the timing of the gun purchase and the inclement weather.
"It would have been a little bit difficult to get over there," he said.
Sheehy told a police detective during an April 5 interview that he had not registered the gun used in the shooting, according to a police report.
Sheehy was charged with failure to appear after he did not show up for his May 10 arraignment in Douglas County Court on the original charge. A judge issued a bench warrant for Sheehy.
Rick Sheehy said his son failed to appear because of a "paperwork'' mistake.
"It was some kind of misunderstanding," Kelley said.
Conboy and Kelley also suggested that he missed the hearing because he was undergoing medical treatment and still recovering from his injuries. Kelley was not representing Joel Sheehy at the time of the May hearing.
In August, Conboy told Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo: "Mr. Sheehy has applied for and is about to get a state permit, which we did not have, and based on that, I would move to dismiss," according to a transcript of the hearing.
"Are you also moving to dismiss the failure to appear?" Marcuzzo asked.
Conboy said he was, and Kelley was asked whether he had any objections.
"Obviously not, your honor," the lawyer said.
Sheehy shared the apartment at 818 N. 95th Plaza with Kellen Holl, 21, who police said was in the apartment when they arrived after the 1:52 a.m. shooting.
Police said they found Sheehy sitting on a couch, bleeding from the head.
Holl told officers that he and Sheehy were sitting in the living room when Sheehy shot himself in the head with his handgun.
Sheehy was handling the weapon when it "accidentally discharged,'' according to a statement from Hein at the time.
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