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Judge Reduces Charge From Murder To Manslaughter In Toddler's Death

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HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — A judge has reduced a charge againstthe uncle of a toddler fatally shot during a Christmas Eve argumentat an Orange County home from murder to voluntary manslaughter.

District Court Judge Alonzo Coleman on Friday reduced the chargeagainst Lashanta Romaro Fearrington after a public defender saidthe shooting of Fearrington's nephew was an accident.

Voluntary manslaughter typically carries a lesser punishmentthan murder.

During Friday's probable cause hearing, Assistant DistrictAttorney James Woodall argued that the 22-year-old Fearrington should be triedfor first-degree murder in the death of 18-month-old Measha Lamont"MJ" Fearrington.

The boy was hit in the head by an errant bullet Christmas Eveduring an argument in his grandmother's home.

The defense has maintained that Fearrington brandished a gun toprotect his mother, Jackie Mann, during an argument between her andher live-in boyfriend, James Long Edwards.

A single gunshot passed through Edwards' leg and struck thechild.

Fearrington is charged also with one count of assault with adeadly weapon with intent to kill, inflicting serious injury. He isbeing held on $500,000 bail.

Coleman said he would reviewFearrington's bail after he has a pretrial release interview.

Public Defender James Williams said there was no evidence thatthe shooting was intentional or that the revolver was aimed for thepurposes of causing injury.

"This is certainly a tragic situation that should not havehappened," he said. "But it should not be bound over by the court as felonymurder."

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