Father whose 5-year-old son died from gunshot gets five years probation

The father of 5-year-old Giovanni Kopystenski, who died in 2009 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, was sentenced to five years of probation Wednesday.

Alex Kopystenski of Las Vegas pleaded guilty in January to child abuse and neglect with substantial bodily harm.

Authorities say Giovanni was in his father's car on July 20, 2009, outside a Walgreens drive-through lane at Durango Drive and Warm Springs Road when the child picked up a loaded handgun. The boy suffered a single gunshot wound to the head.

Giovanni, who was autistic, was pronounced dead at a hospital.

During a tearful sentencing hearing before District Judge Jessie Walsh, Alex Kopystenski's lawyer, Stephen Stein, said his client suffers from deep feelings of guilt and has suicidal thoughts. Stein said he's had to remind his client that committing suicide would mean Alex Kopystenski could never be reunited with his son in heaven.

Since the incident, Alex Kopystenski has started a foundation in his son's memory, and he speaks publicly about the incident and how to prevent similar tragedies from happening, Stein said.

As part of his probation, Walsh ordered Kopystenski to stay away from weapons, stay out of trouble and attend counseling if needed.

Prosecutors were asking for Kopystenski to spend a year in jail.

Contact reporter Francis McCabe at fmccabe@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.