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Man ordered to stand trial in killing of NBCUniversal executive

August 18, 2011 |  4:30 pm

Photo: NBCUniversal executive Brian Russell Kaplon. Credit: KTLA-TVell Kaplon A judge ruled Thursday afternoon that a Chatsworth man accused of fatally shooting an NBCUniversal executive must stand trial on charges of murder and involuntary manslaughter.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Beverly O'Connell's order for David Andrew Armstrong to face trial came after nearly two days of testimony at a preliminary hearing at the San Fernando courthouse.

Armstrong is accused of fatally shooting Brian Russell Kaplon in the chest with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle during a gathering on St. Patrick's Day at Armstrong's home. Armstrong, who works at his father-in-law's foam packaging business, remains free $1-million bail, officials said.

If convicted of the murder as well as the sentence enhancement for using a gun, Armstrong faces up to 50 years to life in state prison.

Kaplon, who worked in the finance department at NBCUniversal, was described by friends and co-workers as affable and creative. He was married and left three children.

Authorities said Armstrong was showing Kaplon the rifle at Armstrong's home when the weapon discharged. Armstrong was arrested after allegedly making conflicting statements about the shooting.

Jim Blatt, the attorney for Armstrong, argued the shooting was a tragic accident involving two friends. He said they were drinking and laughing before the shooting and there was no sign of "a disagreement or anger."

"At the time of the incident, my client had a blood-alcohol level of 0.15%, which is approximately double the legal limit for driving," Blatt said.

Kaplon's widow, said she was pleased with the judge's decision but that the trial process was extremely difficult for the family.

"It's been horrific and surreal," Kristie Kaplon said by phone Thursday. "Losing my husband in such a horrific manner is something nobody should have to go through. I just want justice for Brian."


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-- Andrew Blankstein (Twitter.com/anblanx)

Photo: NBCUniversal executive Brian Russell Kaplon. Credit: KTLA-TV Channel 5