Local News

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

Posted January 25, 2003 7:39 a.m. EST

— A judge has reduced a charge against the uncle of a toddler fatally shot during a Christmas Eve argument at an Orange County home from murder to voluntary manslaughter.

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

Voluntary manslaughter typically carries a lesser punishment than murder.

During Friday's probable cause hearing, Assistant District Attorney James Woodall argued that the 22-year-old Fearrington should be tried for 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 Eve during an argument in his grandmother's home.

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

A single gunshot passed through Edwards' leg and struck the child.

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

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

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

"This is certainly a tragic situation that should not have happened," he said. "But it should not be bound over by the court as felony murder."