The father of a 4-year-old boy who shot to death a 6-year-old neighbor with his father's unsecured gun has rejected a plea bargain that would have required him to serve seven years in prison.

Anthony Senatore of Toms River  pleaded not guilty Monday to six counts of child endangerment.

The 34-year-old Senatore is accused of keeping a loaded .22-caliber rifle unsecured in his bedroom. That's where his son found it in April, took it outside, and shot 6-year-old Brandon Holt once in the head.

Robert Ebbert, Senator's lawyer says his client is "deeply horrified over what took place and feels awful about it." But the lawyer says Senatore should not have been charged with a crime, saying the case belongs in civil court. Ebbert said later "we don’t feel that jail is something that is appropriate," according to the Asbury Park Press.

Senatore did not speak during the hearing.

Also in the courtroom were Senatore's wife and spectators that were friends and family of Holt's reports the Press.

 Authorities say the 4-year-old was able to get a loaded .22 caliber rifle from Senatore's bedroom and shoot his friend in the head on April 8th. The victim died the following day at Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

Senatore remains  free on $100,000 bail.

The Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office is handling the case due to the Senatore's family involvement with Ocean County's office.


The Associated Press contributed to this report