Richardson (Detroit Police Department)
Romulus— Two adults prosecutors say should have been watching a group of children this week when a 4-year-old fatally shot her 4-year-old cousin were charged with involuntary manslaughter and arraigned Sunday.
Patricia Johnson, 53, and Robert B. Richardson, 66, shuffled their feet and leaned against a brick wall during a hearing at 34th District Court.
They face allegations they were at home in the 7100 block of Tuxedo in Detroit on Thursday afternoon and should have been watching children in the house.
But a 4-year-old girl found a loaded rifle in the room and shot her cousin in the chest, Worthy said. The boy, Jamel Witcher, was pronounced dead Thursday at Henry Ford Hospital.
A 5-year-old sister of the boy was also in the home that Witcher’s grandfather rented. They were watching TV when the boy was shot.
Worthy said she’s bringing charges against a third man who was also at home, but he wasn’t arraigned Sunday.
“These are absolutely the right charges in this profoundly sad case. I hope that this sends another resounding message that guns and unsupervised young children will court nothing but disaster,” Worthy said in a statement.
Police are seeking Harvey Witcher, 55, who is also charged with involuntary manslaughter.
“Mr. Witcher is currently being sought for his involvement in this matter and is currently not in custody,” Detroit Police said in a press release.
Johnson and Richardson are habitual offenders and face 22 ½ years in prison if convicted.
Not-guilty pleas were entered on their behalf before Magistrate Meletios Golematis. They remain jailed on $200,000 bonds.
Both also are charged with second-degree child abuse, felon in possession of firearm and felony firearm. Richardson is also charged with careless discharge of a firearm causing injury or death.
The charges follow an autopsy Saturday that concluded the death was a homicide.