BELFAST, Maine — Bail was set at $25,000 cash or $100,000 surety for the Knox teenager accused of manslaughter during his first court appearance Friday afternoon.
Luke Bryant, 19, appeared via a three-way video conference from Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset, where he is being held in custody. Judge John Kennedy presided from West Bath District Court, and Maine Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea and defense attorney Christopher MacLean appeared at Belfast District Court.
Bryant was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with manslaughter for fatally shooting Tyler Seaney, 19, on Saturday, Feb. 19, at Bryant’s apartment in Knox.
According to a police affidavit, Bryant said during interviews with detectives after the shooting that he had meant to scare his friend by “dry-firing,” or basically pulling the trigger of an unloaded shotgun, at him.
However, the gun was loaded, and Seaney died at the scene of a gunshot wound to his neck, the State Medical Examiner’s Office determined earlier this week.
Several people attended Friday’s hearing in Belfast District Court to listen to the legal proceedings, but they did not wish to identify themselves or speak to the media.
Kennedy read aloud the Class A felony charge which carries a sentence of as much as 30 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. The state is alleging that Bryant recklessly caused the death of Seaney.
“Mr. Bryant, do you understand that charge?” the judge asked.
“Yes,” the teen responded from jail, speaking quickly and in a clear voice.
Kennedy said that because he is charged with a felony crime, the court would not accept a plea from Bryant that day.
Some of the people in the courtroom held on to each other during the roughly 15-minute long court appearance.
Bail conditions set by Kennedy should Bryant be released included that he not use or possess firearms or dangerous weapons and also that he submit to random searches for firearms and dangerous weapons.
As of mid-afternoon Friday, Bryant was still being held in custody at the jail.
His next court appearance for a pre-trial status conference was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. May 26 at Belfast District Court.