PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A Philadelphia woman pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment after her 2-year-old son picked up a loaded .357 revolver and fatally shot his 11-year-old sister.
The toddler found the gun under a bed and shot Jamara Stevens while their mother, 31-year-old Tiffany Goldwire, was in the bathroom on April 5, prosecutors said.
Goldwire told police that a male friend she knew only as Mark left the loaded gun on top of the refrigerator the night before. Her 14-year-old son moved it to what he thought was a safer place in her bedroom and told his mother. But Goldwire told police she was drunk and high that night, according to Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore.
"It's a very, very big gun," Pescatore said. "How irresponsible. She just lets this man come in — on more than one occasion — and leave a gun there. It's not a high refrigerator, and there's a chair right there. Any kid could have crawled up there and gotten it."
Goldwire's four children were playing in the bedroom when the toddler, who was on the floor, found the loaded, cocked gun and fired, prosecutors said.
Goldwire faces eight to 17 years in prison when she is sentenced on Sept. 27. She was on probation at the time of the shooting from an earlier arrest on weapons and terroristic threat charges, Pescatore said.
A veteran homicide prosecutor, she could not recall a case that involved a child that young getting hold of a gun.
Defense lawyer Eugene Tinari said his client pleaded guilty so that her teenage son would not be forced to testify against her at trial. He said he will ask for Goldwire to be released on time already served early next year so the family "can start the healing process."
"She's mostly concerned about trying to get back to her children and put their lives back together," Tinari said.