Judge releases youth in fatal shooting to his mother

Judge releases youth in fatal shooting to his mother

URBANA — Despite the objection of the state's attorney's office, a judge on Wednesday released a 14-year-old charged in the shooting death of his 3-year-old nephew.

Judge Heidi Ladd ordered the youth, who has been held at the Juvenile Detention Center since the shooting on May 16 in the 900 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue in Urbana, released to his mother and scheduled a status hearing for June 1.

On May 16, the teen, who said he was trying to teach his 3-year-old nephew Mekhi Woods a lesson about gun safety, removed the magazine from a handgun and, not knowing a round was loaded already, pointed the gun and fired.

The 3-year-old died that day. The 14-year-old has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of a weapon.

When police arrived, prosecutors said last week, the teen was outside, still holding the gun and yelling hysterically that he had shot his nephew and was going to shoot himself.

State's Attorney Julia Rietz said Wednesday afternoon that the charges the boy faces are "very serious ... and I am concerned about his safety and the safety of others ... with regards to his own mental state."

At Wednesday's status hearing, Ladd released the boy to his mother, placed him on home confinement and ordered him to be in the custody of a responsible adult who is at least 30 years old.

"There was discussion about relatives and a neighbor," Rietz said.

A mental health worker at the hearing told Ladd that counseling services have begun. Rietz said the description of those services was not specific.

The News-Gazette has a practice of not publishing the names of juveniles unless they are charged with serious felonies as adults.

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