South Central District Judge Bruce Haskell said he believed a deferred sentence was appropriate for Christopher Simmons, who pleaded guilty to felony reckless endangerment on Tuesday morning.
"Any lessons that would have been learned by this incident probably were learned within about a millisecond of it happening," Haskell said in court.
The 36-year-old accidentally struck a 6-month-old baby in his care with a bullet, as he attempted to clear a malfunction from his rifle in November, according to a police.
"This was more than just an accident. There were some decisions made that made this reckless endangerment," Haskell said. "I would suspect you've probably been beating yourself up every day since it happened and that's probably appropriate, but I don't think you need to continue doing that."
Simmons' attorney Tom Dickson said the baby is OK and doing well. Burleigh County Assistant State's Attorney Justin Schwarz said the baby's mother was consulted on the plea agreement, which released Simmons from having to serve a mandatory two years in prison.
Simmons was required to sell all his guns and pay $575 in court administration fees.
"He's a good father," Dickson said. "We were unlucky here."