LAKE CITY, Fla. (AP) — No charges will be filed against an 11-year-old north Florida girl held in connection to her brother's fatal shooting, but charges are still being considered for her 15-year-old sister, prosecutors said Thursday.
The elder sister, who police say fatally shot her 16-year-old brother Jan. 5 while their truck-driver parents were away for work, could still be charged, said Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister. She is due back in court in March.
Both girls were released from juvenile detention and have been placed in new homes under state supervision. Their parents, who face felony child neglect charges, are out of jail on bond.
"The judge won't let their parents anywhere near them," said Blair Payne, the public defender representing the elder girl.
The Associated Press is not naming members of the family because of the girls' ages and because of abuse allegations.
Documents show that the elder girl suffered years of abuse, including being locked in her bedroom for days with only a blanket and a bucket to use the bathroom. Police documents also indicate she was sexually abused by her uncle, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for it.
On Jan. 5, investigators say, the elder girl was held in a locked bedroom by her older brother while their parents were away. The girl persuaded the younger sister to unlock the door so she could shower, police reports state.
The elder sister asked the younger one to keep watch while she cut away foam from around an air conditioner so she could get through the window of her parents' locked bedroom, where she retrieved a pistol, police said.
With gun in hand, the girl asked her younger sister to take their 3-year-old sister and hide in a closet before she shot her brother in the neck as he slept, police said.
The two older girls fled the house, leaving the toddler behind. They were later found by police outside a Dollar General store after the younger girl called a friend saying she needed a ride.
Officials found the 3-year-old with the dead boy's body, according to police documents.
Payne said his office has received money, gift cards, clothes and food from the community and people elsewhere who want to help the girls.
"When they were arrested, they had nothing but the clothes on their back," Payne said.
"There were a lot of wet eyes in this office when those girls left."