The fatal shooting of a 33-year-old Florida woman by her 2-year-old son in 2011 was a tragic accident, prosecutors said, according to the Sun Sentinel.
In April 2011, Julia Bennett reportedly was struck in the left side of the back after her son found a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun wedged between sofa cushions in their Miramar, Fla., apartment and fired the weapon, the report says. The gun had been put there by its owner, Hewart Bailey, who was also the child’s father, the report says.
Before the shooting, Bailey removed the magazine from the gun and stuffed the weapon between the cushions in the living-room sofa, assistant State Attorney Gregg Rossman wrote in a recent memo, the Sentinel says.
“Although mistaken, he believed he had cleared and unloaded the firearm by racking the slide and then removing the magazine,” Rossman wrote in the memo. “Tragically, he did those things in the wrong order,” apparently leaving a bullet in the chamber, the report says.
It is unclear exactly what happened next, but the child reportedly found the gun and was holding it in his hands when Bailey spotted him, the report says. Bailey lunged at his son and “attempted to grab the weapon from him only to have it go off,” the Sentinel writes.
“None of these actions would rise to the level of culpable negligence necessary to charge manslaughter,” the memo said.
Bailey, prosecutors say, had a concealed-weapon permit and had been Bennett’s boyfriend for five years. Prosecutors said that police found Bailey to be cooperative and concerned about Bennett’s well-being, the report says.
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