South Dakota man charged with manslaughter in loss of fetus

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A South Dakota man has been charged with second-degree manslaughter after police say he negligently shot his pregnant wife, killing the fetus.

Twenty-two-year-old Sheldon Pettibone of Sioux Falls told police he was cleaning his gun Sunday when it fired, hitting his wife, Melanie who was about 18 weeks pregnant.

She was rushed to a hospital and the fetus was delivered by cesarean section but was dead. An autopsy found that the bullet hit Melanie Pettibone in the thigh and traveled to her uterus.

Police initially arrested Sheldon Pettibone for negligently discharging the gun, but on Wednesday he was charged with manslaughter. Pettibone appeared in court Thursday on the new charges. Bond was set at $50,000 cash only. Pettibone will be represented by a public defender.

Police say Pettibone admitted he was distracted by a football game on TV. He said it was possible the gun fired because of “operator error.”