PITTSFIELD, Mass. (Map, News) - Christopher Burda said his friend was so despondent over her father's death and other problems that he believed only a major jolt would snap her out of it.
He said he was "calling her bluff" when he retrieved the 9 mm Beretta he had bought from her father and even reloaded it with three fresh bullets after it failed to fire on Nancy Choquette's first attempt.
Moments later, she lifted the gun to her head and used it to kill herself in Burda's kitchen.
Burda now faces up to 20 years in prison after a jury convicted him Tuesday of involuntary manslaughter in Choquette's death on Nov. 21, 2005, her 51st birthday.
Jurors, who deliberated for just over an hour, sided with prosecutors who said Burda should have known Choquette was too suicidal and intoxicated to be trusted with a loaded weapon - particularly one with such emotional significance.
Burda said he and Choquette, who lived in nearby Stamford, Vt., were talking in his kitchen that night when Choquette's mood changed to anger, frustration and despair about "how hard life was."
He told police her last words to him were chilling: "I'm going to do it, and you're going to watch."
"It was like she needed a slap in the face to just snap her out of it," Burda testified. "I couldn't hit her or touch her, but I was thinking, 'What would jog her?'"
Choquette had told Burda more than once that she was suicidal, Prosecutor Joan McMenemy said.
"He is a primary cause of her death," McMenemy said. "She pulled the trigger of the gun that the defendant provided to her not once, but twice."
Man Convicted In Death of Sucidial Woman