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Man Pleads Not Guilty To Murder Of NBC Executive

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SAN FERNANDO (CBS) — A Porter Ranch man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge stemming from last month’s shooting death of a childhood friend.

David Andrew Armstrong, 32, is charged in the March 18 killing of 32- year-old Brian Russell Kaplon, a digital distribution executive with NBCUniversal.

Armstrong was ordered to surrender his passport but remains free on $1 million bail pending his next appearance in San Fernando Superior Court on May 24.

The shooting occurred about 12:45 a.m. March 18 in the garage of Armstrong’s Porter Ranch home in the 20000 block of Vercelli Way, where both men had apparently been drinking at a St. Patrick’s Day party.

Kaplon died from at least one shot to the chest fired from an AR-15, a semiautomatic, civilian version of a U.S. military’s M16. Most fire .223- caliber bullets.

Authorities said Armstrong kept a collection of guns in the garage.

An attorney for Armstrong has said the shooting was accidental.

“There was no intent ever to harm his best friend. This was an accident based on two friends who were drinking and not following the proper safety precautions in the handling of a rifle,” lawyer James Blatt told the Los Angeles Times last month.

He said Armstrong called 911 after the shooting and tried to save Kaplon, who was married with one child and twins due in May.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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