BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Less than 24 hours after a 9-year-old was shot and killed, the Baton Rouge Police Department announced that his brother, an 11-year-old, has been arrested and charged with negligent homicide. With so many questions about the case, a local attorney is now weighing in on what could happen next.
It is truly a parent’s worst nightmare but it became reality as a flurry of crime scene tape and officers flooded the front yard of a home on Lanier Drive Saturday evening. Police say a 9-year-old was fatally shot inside the home he and his 11-year-old brother were playing with a gun they had found. Somehow, around 6:30 p.m. that night, the gun went off, leaving the younger brother dead. As the family wrestles with the unbearable grief of losing one child, the other boy will now end up before the juvenile court system.
Franz Borghardt, a criminal defense attorney who is not connected to the case, says it is a hard one no matter the district attorney tackles it.
“The DA gets to make the decision now how he wants to proceed based on all the evidence,” said Borghardt, “You have an 11-year-old that ends up shooting accidentally his 9-year-old brother and when you start any kind of negligent homicide that way, there will be no winners in this.”
A juvenile case is a lot different from an adult case and negligent homicide is relatively less severe in terms of a homicide charge. Borghardt says regardless of the outcome, he cannot help but focus on the child at the center of it all.
“From an emotional and psychological impact, that damage is already done and probably can’t be undone,” said Borghardt.
According to District Attorney Hillar Moore, if convicted, the 11-year-old could remain in a juvenile detention center until he is 18 years old but he tells WAFB there are several factors that must be explored before any determination is made. Moore released the following statement to WAFB:
“By law the 11-year-old could be held in the juvenile detention center until he’s 18 years old, if convicted. Obviously this case is very tragic and sad so we will review everything before we make any determination.”
Borghardt believes part of what happens next must start with evaluating the child.
“The big question is does that 11-year-old, is he developed in such a way that he can distinguish between right and wrong," he added. "Did he understand what he was doing?”
So far investigators say there is no indication that the parents will be charged in the case but Borghardt says that is something that will also be left up to the DA as he reviews all available evidence.
“This raises questions of course about how did they get the firearm, how accessible was the firearm, how did they get the ammunition for the firearm," Borghardt added. "Was the firearm already loaded when they got it. You know was this regular for them or did they crack a safe?”
While it is still early in the case, no matter what happens, Borghardt hopes the tragedy will serve as a grim but vital reminder for others.
“The big thing is you have to be vigilant,” said Borghardt.