COCOA, Fla. – A 16-year-old boy who Cocoa Police believe accidentally shot a 2-year-old could soon find out if prosecutors will charge him as an adult, News 6 partner Florida Today reports.
The teenager will go to a hearing in front of a juvenile judge on January 5th. Prosecutors who have been investigating the case since the boy’s arrest on Dec. 14 may file a motion to bring the case to an adult court, prosecutors reported. The move will give prosecutors more leeway in condemning recommendations for juveniles.
The teenager, who continues to be held in the detention center, was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of Brayden Howard.
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The incident occurred in the Sunrise Village RV community on the 1600 block of Owosso Street. A group of teenagers including the suspect were at home. The cocoa police said the youths brought at least two firearms into the house for reasons unknown.
Witnesses told detectives that the teen was sleeping on an air mattress when he woke up that morning to see Brayden playing with a revolver that was left on the bed.
The teenager got up and took the revolver from the toddler. Then he checked that it wasn’t charged, the police reported. Detectives said the teen did not know how to handle the gun and accidentally fired a round from what he believed to be an unloaded gun.
The bullet hit the toddler in the arm and went through his torso, investigators reported. The child then ran to his mother. Witnesses called 911 to report that the mother was crying and carrying her dying child. A cocoa policeman arrived moments later and tried unsuccessfully to resuscitate the child.
Police said the tragedy was compounded by the fact that the mother was pregnant with Brayden two years ago when her boyfriend was shot dead in defense of her and another child during a botched home invasion.
Police said the mother was comforting Jaleen Malik Howard, Brayden’s 19-year-old father, when he was fatally wounded in the robbery attempt on June 19, 2018.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Yvonne Martinez, spokeswoman for the Cocoa Police Department.
The infant’s death was the 38th reported murder in Brevard County that year.