A Toms River man pleaded guilty Thursday to endangering the welfare of children by keeping unsecured firearms in his home, a situation prosecutors contend led to the fatal shooting of a 6 year-old boy.
Anthony Senatore, 35, will be sentenced to three years in state prison as part of a negotiated plea agreement, according to a news release from the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office.
Senatore's 4-year-old son took a loaded .22-caliber rifle from his father's bedroom on April 8, 2013, and brought it outside, where he fired a single shot that struck 6-year-old playmate Brandon Holt in the head.
Holt died the next day at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
In addition to the rifle used to fire the fatal shot, investigators found four unsecured shotguns in Senatore's home.
All of the weapons were in close proximity to ammunition and accessible to Senatore's children, ages 12, 8 and 4, investigators said.
Senatore was charged last May with six counts of endangering the welfare of children.
He pleaded guilty Thursday to two of those charges – one of them a second-degree offense, the second a third-degree offense.
Senatore previously rejected a plea deal in which he would have agreed to serve seven years in prison, The Asbury Park Press reported in November.
He remains free on bail until he is formally sentenced Feb. 5.
Prosecutors said they will submit a consent order for Senatore to forfeit his weapons and firearms purchaser ID card.
Following Holt's death, the state Attorney General's Office directed the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office to take over the investigation, reportedly because Senatore's family has ties to the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office and the Toms River Police Department.