UPDATE: Gadson acquitted on the most serious charges.
Lakeisha Gadson, and her son, Jayquan McConnico, 16, were formally charged today with involuntary manslaughter - and lying to investigators about how Liquarry Jefferson, 8, died.
Although police still say the person who actually fired the gun that killed Liquarry was his 7-year-old cousin, prosecutors charge Gadson and McConnico are equally to blame, because they stored a 9-mm Norinco semi-automatic handgun with live ammunition in the unlocked top drawer of a small dresser in McConnico's bedroom. They alleged that Liquarry routinely played in the room - and that it was this gun that the boy and his cousin were playing with when it went off around 11 p.m. on June 24, 2007.
At a press conference today, Suffolk County DA Dan Conley and Police Commissioner Ed Davis recited a series of changing stories the family told police about how Liquarry died.
When [emergency workers] went to McConnico's room, they told investigators, they found Jefferson grievously wounded. McConnico, with Gadson's knowledge, allegedly retrieved the handgun and some ammunition, concealing them in some clothing and hiding them in the back hall. Gadson allegedly devised the intruder story and told McConnico and others in the residence to repeat it to police.
"The facts are both shocking and sad," Conley said. "Shocking because the actions that led to Liquarry's death were so reckless and the consequences so predictable, and sad because an eight-year-old boy lost his life because the two people who should have been most concerned with his care and protection were utterly derelict in their duties."
Complete statement from the DA's office:
BOSTON, March 31, 2008-Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today released the following statement on the indictments of LAKEISHA GADSON (D.O.B. 8/17/76) and JAYQUAN McCONNICO (D.O.B. 10/29/91) for the June 24, 2007, shooting death of Liquarry Jefferson:
"Today, I am announcing the results of a nine-month Grand Jury investigation into the shooting death of eight-year-old Liquarry Jefferson on June 24, 2007. As a result of this intensive investigation, led by Assistant District Attorney David Deakin and in close cooperation with homicide detectives from the Boston Police Department:
"Lakeisha Gadson (D.O.B. 8/17/76), mother of Liquarry Jefferson, has been indicted on the following six charges: Involuntary Manslaughter, Wantonly or Recklessly Permitting Substantial Bodily Injury to a Child, Child Endangerment, Improper Storage of a Firearm, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, and Misleading a Police Officer.
"In addition, Jayquan McConnico (D.O.B. 10/29/91), brother of Liquarry Jefferson and 15 years old at the time of the shooting, has been indicted as a youthful offender for three offenses: Involuntary Manslaughter, Improper Storage of a Firearm, and Misleading a Police Officer.
"Lakeisha Gadson is expected to be arraigned on Wednesday, April 2, in Suffolk Superior Court. A warrant has been issued for Jayquan McConnico, who will be arraigned as a youthful offender in the Boston Juvenile Court on April 4.
"The facts I am about to describe are both shocking and sad: Shocking because the actions that led to Liquarry Jefferson's death were so reckless and the consequences so predictable; and sad because an 8-year-old boy lost his life because his mother and teenaged brother - people who should have been most concerned with his care and protection - were utterly derelict in their duty.
"Our investigation has established that sometime before February 20, 2007, Lakeisha Gadson obtained and/or permitted her then-fifteen-year-old son, Jayquan McConnico, to obtain an unregistered 9 millimeter Norinco semi-automatic pistol. McConnico stored the loaded gun in the top drawer of his dresser in his bedroom in the family home at 266 Seaver Street, Apartment 6.
"The dresser's top drawer was only about two and a half feet off the ground, within easy reach of a seven- or eight-year-old boy. The drawer was neither locked nor secured in any way. Likewise, the unregistered handgun did not have a trigger lock or any other protection against accidental or unauthorized discharge as mandated by Massachusetts law. Both defendants knew that young children had regular access to McConnico's bedroom, where the gun was kept, and it was there that Liquarry Jefferson and his seven-year-old cousin were playing when Liquarry was fatally shot.
"Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on June 24, 2007, Boston Police and emergency medical personnel responded to a 911 call from 266 Seaver Street. The caller, Jayquan McConnico, reported that his eight-year-old brother, Liquarry Jefferson, had been shot. In the course of that call, which went to Massachusetts State Police because it was made from a cellular phone, McConnico falsely reported that "someone" shot through the window of the home and hit his little brother.
"When first responders arrived, they found the boy in a back bedroom fighting for his life. He had been shot once in the abdomen. Liquarry Jefferson was rushed to Boston Medical Center, where he died on the operating table.
"In speaking with police who responded at the scene, Jayquan McConnico initially gave police a false name, and changed his story of someone shooting through the window of the apartment. He now told police another false story and said that a lone gunman, whom he described as an African-American male with a hooded sweatshirt pulled tight over his face, had entered the apartment, gone to the back room, and shot his younger brother.
"Lakeisha Gadson gave police a different story, and it, too, was false. She told officers that three African-American males wearing hooded sweatshirts had entered the home, gone straight to the back bedroom - as if targeting someone - and fired three rounds, hitting her eight-year-old son.
"Not long after - in the early morning hours of Monday, June 25 - McConnico changed his story, yet again, to align more closely with his mother's. He told Boston Police homicide detectives that three African-American males wearing hooded sweatshirts had entered the apartment, gone to the back, and fired two rounds, hitting his brother.
"Later that day, their false accounts crumbling under the weight of evidence collected by the Boston Police Department, both Gadson and McConnico gave further interviews to detectives. Both acknowledged that they had lied to police. They reported that they had been in their apartment at approximately 11:00 p.m. when the two boys were playing in McConnico's bedroom. Hearing a gunshot or gunshots, they went to the back bedroom, where they found the stricken Liquarry.
"With Gadson's full knowledge, McConnico picked up the gun and some ammunition, wrapped them in a pair of his boxer shorts, and hid them in the back hall. They both reported that in the aftermath of the shooting, Gadson fabricated an account of events and told McConnico and his siblings to repeat it to authorities.
"McConnico described for police how he had obtained the unregistered gun sometime before, with his mother's knowledge, and stored it in his dresser. He also told police that he had obtained additional ammunition for the gun and stored it with the gun. In a later conversation, Gadson said that McConnico was "protecting" her by telling the police that the gun was his, not hers. In the same conversation - and in a later conversation with the Department of Social Services - Gadson stated that she had obtained the gun for protection.
"The indictments allege that these defendants obtained an unregistered firearm and stored it, unsecured, in a low dresser drawer in a room constantly accessible to young children. We intend to prove that this wanton, reckless behavior led predictably to the tragic - and entirely preventable - death of eight-year-old Liquarry Jefferson."