HASTINGS, Neb. – A Nebraska woman whose 9-year-old son is charged with fatally shooting his 4-year-old brother has pleaded no contest to a lesser child abuse charge.
The 30-year-old woman was convicted on Monday of felony negligent child abuse resulting in injury. Prosecutors lowered the charge from felony negligent child abuse resulting in death. Her sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 28.
Her 31-year-old boyfriend also has pleaded guilty to felony negligent child abuse resulting in injury. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22. Both face up to five years in prison.
The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes, and is not naming the adults or children involved in this case.
The woman's older son is accused of shooting his brother with a .22-caliber rifle on April 18 and has been charged with manslaughter. Adams County Attorney Donna Fegler Daiss said Tuesday that she couldn't talk much about the boy's case.
"I am able to tell you that the boy has been and continues to receive services under the supervision of the court," Fegler Daiss said. She said previously that a manslaughter allegation against a juvenile cannot lead to jail or prison. Rather, she said, officials will seek treatment to alter his behavior.
Authorities have said police, school and mental health officials had voiced concerns about the 9-year-old's often violent behavior that included killing and harming cats, attacking and threatening other students, and threating to kill his mother.
One arrest affidavit says officials had warned the mother and her boyfriend for weeks before the shooting to lock up all knives and other sharp items and to have no guns in the house. One official said the mother didn't see the urgency in securing those items and made excuses for not locking them up, such as needing knives for cooking.
Police say in the affidavit that officers found six firearms and ammunition — none of which had been locked up and were easily accessible — after the shooting. Officials said the mother failed to keep several appointments with mental health officials in the weeks before the shooting.