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Prosecutor: Shooting of war vet was justified

May. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Cittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan holds a briefing Wednesday at his office in Burlington to say the shooting death of Kryn Miner was legally justified. He said Miner, a war veteran who suffered from PTSD and other war-time injuries, threatened to kill his entire family, and one of the veteran's teenage children shot him.
Cittenden County State's Attorney T.J. Donovan holds a briefing Wednesday at his office in Burlington to say the shooting death of Kryn Miner was legally justified. He said Miner, a war veteran who suffered from PTSD and other war-time injuries, threatened to kill his entire family, and one of the veteran's teenage children shot him. (Ryan Mercer / Free Press)
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The state is declining to seek criminal charges in the case of Kryn Miner, the Essex Junction war veteran killed by one of his teenage children April 26 after Miner threatened his family with a gun.

“The shooting and death of Kryn Miner was legally justified,” Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan said during a Wednesday news conference in Burlington. “As a result, no criminal charges against any person will be filed.”

Donovan said Miner, 44, was shot inside his Essex Junction home after he pointed a gun at his wife and one of his children and declared he was going to kill the whole family.

“The teenager reasonably believed the siblings and mother were all in imminent danger of being killed or suffering great bodily harm,” Donovan said.

Donovan declined to identify the teenager out of concern for the youth’s privacy. Donovan said his office has asked a judge to permanently seal portions of police affidavits that identify the teen. The Miner family includes four children, two of whom are teenagers.

“The young person that had to pull the trigger is going to have to deal with this the rest of their lives,” the prosecutor said. “We want to protect the privacy of the young person, and what we don’t want to do is have this young person have to publicly answer for this act for the rest of their lives.”

Donovan, in a carefully worded statement based on an investigation conducted by Essex police, described the sequence of events that led up to the shooting:

Miner had been drinking during a wedding in Burlington earlier in the day. He began acting belligerently after the wedding, hitting himself and verbally abusing his wife, Amy Miner.

The conduct continued after the family returned to home. Miner punched the mailbox and kicked out a light post at the home, Donovan said.

Amy Miner attempted to “de-escalate” the situation, but without success, the prosecutor added.

According to Donovan, Miner previously had threatened his wife and family with a gun during an incident in another state more than a year ago. In that case, which was never reported to police, Amy Miner was able to calm him down.

Donovan said Miner’s ongoing struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries also were factors in Miner’s behavior in the hours before his death.

According to colleagues and family friends, Miner was a 25-year Army veteran and served on 11 military deployments in seven years.

He most recently served as an human intelligence chief with the Vermont Army National Guard during its deployment to Afghanistan in 2010. At the time of his death, Miner was a chief warrant officer 2 with the headquarters division of the Vermont Guard.

Donovan said the April 26 shooting occurred after the teenager heard Amy Miner scream in the parents’ bedroom late April 25. The teenager went to the bedroom and found Miner physically restraining his wife on the bed.

The teenager responded by proposing to call 911. Miner reacted to that by slapping the teenager and “verbally abusing his other children,” Donovan said.

Moments later, Donovan said, Miner pointed a loaded .380 handgun at the teen and at Amy Miner and declared: “I’m going to kill you all.”

Miner then threw the handgun to the teen and asked, “Do you want to play the gun game?” Miner turned and began to remove a loaded, 9 mm handgun from a bag on the floor.

The teen then shot at Miner six times, striking him with five rounds, Donovan said. Miner died at the scene.

Donovan said the teen continued to shoot at Miner after Miner fell to the floor, fearing Miner was “going to get up.” Amy Miner, the teen and another family member were in the bedroom at the time.

Jason Sawyer, a lawyer for the Miner family, attended the Wednesday news conference and read a statement from the family that thanked police, family friends and the community for their support in the days after the shooting.

“Kryn was a wonderful and loving husband, as well as a fantastic and dedicated father to his four children,” Sawyer said.

The family also noted Miner’s struggles with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.

“For all of our veterans who may be active or retired, let’s not abandon them,” the family statement said. “For people like Kryn and other vets with traumatic injuries, the quality of a better life is the responsibility of us all. Please support them.”

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