DA speaks out after judge rejects murder charge in child's death - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Orleans DA speaks out after judge rejects murder charge in child's death

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New Orleans, La. -

Prosecutors believe the death of 5-year-old Brandajah Smith is a case of murder. Thursday, a New Orleans Criminal Court judge disagreed.

Judge Darryl Derbigny threw out a second-degree murder charge against the little girl's mother, Laderika Smith.

Brandajah died in June, when authorities say she shot herself after being left alone in her home on North Galvez. Laderika Smith was arrested and later charged with second-degree murder

According to Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, the judge based his decision on a Louisiana Supreme Court ruling in a similar case involving the death of a child. But, Cannizzaro says there are key differences in the circumstances surrounding Brandajah's death.

"There was no negligence here. The mother did everything but put the gun in the child's hand and pull the trigger," he said.

Cannizzaro says school counselors allegedly told Smith about disturbing conversations they had with her daughter, but he accuses Smith of doing nothing to stop the tragedy from unfolding.

"[Smith] absolutely knew this was going to happen," Cannizzaro said. "[She] had information that her child was suicidal because she was subjected to abuse and she wanted to kill herself by shooting herself with a gun. She was aware of where the gun was and she knew that the gun was loaded. With all of this information, the mother left the house. When the mother is gone, the 5-year-old goes to where the loaded gun is, places the gun to her body, pulls the trigger."

Cannizzaro calls the mother's actions intentional. Now, he's preparing to appeal the ruling.

"We are going to fight that. We are going to ask the appellate courts to reinstate this charge and give us an opportunity to present the case to the jury and let them make the decision as to whether or not the mother is guilty or not of second-degree murder," Cannizzaro said.

We were unable to reach Smith's defense attorney for comment Thursday.

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