Updated:BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. (AP) (AP)ong> - The most serious charge against a western Pennsylvania man in the shooting of a costumed child that police said he mistook for an animal has been dismissed.
The Beaver County Times says Beaver County Judge John Dohanich ruled Monday that prosecutors cannot proceed with a charge of aggravated assault against 24-year-old Thomas Grant of Rochester.
Defense attorney Steven Valsamidis challenged the charge, saying it required proof of malice. He has characterized the shooting of the 8-year-old girl as a "tragic accident."
Police say the child was in a black costume with a white feather or tassel on her hat during a Halloween party at a New Sewickley home in October. Police said Grant thought she was a skunk. He was also charged with reckless endangerment and simple assault.