By DOUG IRVING / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Sloane Steven Briles, 35, has pleaded not guilty to charges of child endangerment and resisting police. Prosecutors say he was under the influence of alcohol during a harbor cruise in August and threw his son into the water when the boy refused to stop crying.
Briles was scheduled to enter his plea again on Monday, a routine step after his preliminary court hearings. But his case was postponed until early December and moved to Orange County’s Veterans Court.
The court was created in 2008 to handle cases involving military veterans who need mental-health treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or other problems.
“It’s just a court that has special treatment programs in place for combat veterans, particularly those with alcohol problems,” said Briles’ attorney, Brian Gurwitz.
A Facebook page that appears to belong to Briles says he served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps between 1995 and 2000. The latest post on the page, from mid-November, says he was coming up on 60 days of sobriety after a Veterans Affairs treatment program – “so u can call me ‘sobie-wan-kenobi.'”
Prosecutors have accused Briles of poking his son in the chest and slapping him in the face before tossing him about 10 feet off a boat and into the path of oncoming harbor traffic. He was on the boat, the Queen, with his girlfriend and two young sons from a previous marriage.
A boat had to maneuver to avoid striking the boy, who treaded water before a captain on another boat tossed him a life ring, according to the District Attorney’s account of what happened. Prosecutors say Briles made no attempt to save his son and jumped off the boat only to avoid angry passengers.
Briles later told television reporters that he and his son were just playing around and that they both decided to jump into the harbor for fun. He told reporters that his son is a good swimmer.
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