Official: Gun shouldn’t have been in grandfather’s home

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — Four adult relatives of two Detroit children who’ve shot themselves recently while under the relatives’ care — one fatally — were offered bond Thursday at their arraignments before magistrate Bari Wood at 36th District Court.

Frederick Davis

Mariah Davis, 5, was spending the night at her grandparents’ home on the 19700 block of Oakfield on May 11 when she found a gun under a pillow in her grandparents’ bedroom. She took it to a room where she and two other children were staying, police say, and fatally shot herself in the neck.

Her grandparents, Patricia McNeal and Frederick Davis, both 65, turned themselves in to Detroit police at 3 a.m. Thursday.

Patricia McNeal

McNeal and Davis are both charged with involuntary manslaughter, felony firearm and three counts of second-degree child abuse, while Davis also faces a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Due to Davis’ felon status, Wood said “a gun should not have been in that home under any circumstances.”

Initially, Wood gave McNeal a bond of $75,000, of which 10 percent would be required up front for her to not spend the hearings and trial in jail.

But attorney Randall Upshaw, who represented both defendants, asked Wood to reconsider.

The kids, he said, had been “dropped off unexpectedly.” The gun, he said, didn’t belong to McNeal, and the woman had never been charged with a crime her entire life, poses no flight risk, and maintained regular contact with the officer in charge of the case. When informed of a warrant for her arrest, she turned herself in promptly.

Joseph Williams

There is no chance of a repeat incident, he said.

“If you’re a stick-up man or a murderer, you might do it again,” Upshaw said. “These are not those people.”

Then there were McNeal’s medical issues. McNeal had suffered a brain tumor that once put her in a coma for two months. She is under the legal care of a daughter, Upshaw said.

“She might die in jail” if left there until trial, Upshaw said.

Wood reconsidered her decision and not only cut McNeal’s bond amount to $50,000, but converted it to a personal bond, meaning the money would only be paid if McNeal didn’t appear in court.

Davis, who was given a $100,000/10 percent bond, was an absconder from parole before being arrested, Wood said. His bond was not reduced.

Both are due back in court for probable cause conferences on June 3 at 8:30 a.m., and for preliminary exams on June 10 at 1:30 p.m. All hearings will be held at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice.

Neither are allowed to “hold, possess or store” guns, Wood said.

Family members of Davis and McNeal declined comment after the hearing.

On Nov. 2, Aiden Drewery, 4, found a gun under the pillow of great-grandfather Joseph Williams, 80, and shot himself in the hand with it.

Andrea Drewery

On Thursday, Williams and the boy’s mother, Andrea Drewery, 30, were arraigned on charges of second-degree child abuse and felony firearm.

Both were given bonds of $30,000/10 percent, and both are due at the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice on June 3 at 8:30 a.m. for a probable cause conference, and again on June 10 at 1:30 p.m. for their preliminary exams.

Williams and Drewery are barred from holding, possessing or storing guns, Wood said.