URBANA — A teen who supplied the gun that another teen used in the accidental shooting death of a toddler has been sentenced to prison.
Dequan Fenderson, 18, who listed an address in the 200 block of East Clark Street, Champaign, pleaded guilty in November to possession of a handgun, admitting that between April 27 and May 16, he had a .25-caliber handgun.
It was that gun that a 15-year-old boy had when he fired, killing Mekhi Woods, 3, who was his nephew.
"I apologize for any harm but this was not my fault," said Fenderson. "I'm no bad person."
The fatal shooting happened the afternoon of May 16 in the home where the younger teen and Mekhi lived in the 900 block of East Pennsylvania Avenue in Urbana.
Fenderson was in the room when his younger friend fired the gun in the direction of the toddler, apparently unaware of the live round in the chamber. The younger boy told Urbana police that he thought the gun was safe because Fenderson had taken its ammunition clip out.
Fenderson ran from the home after the shooting but later in the day told police he had no idea where the gun came from.
Judge Harry Clem sentenced Fenderson, who had a juvenile conviction for aggravated battery, to 18 months in prison, saying the public needed to be protected and that Fenderson needed time to think about what he had done.
"He did not fire the fatal shot but for him to come in here and say he did nothing wrong shows a lack of appreciation of the facts," the judge said.
"We do live in a culture with way too many guns in too many people's hands," he said.
Assistant State's Attorney Scott Larson had a 14-year-old girl, who is a friend of Fenderson, testify about him putting a gun to the side of her head in late March or early April while another person took pictures of it with a cell phone. The girl, who was 13 at the time, said only after she pushed the gun away from her face did Fenderson put the safety on.
She said she wasn't afraid because she had seen many guns before.
Larson showed the judge the pictures.
"Nothing tragic happened on that occasion but because of his need to show off with a gun, a tragedy of monumental proportions happened thereafter," said Clem.
Fenderson's court-appointed attorney, Assistant Public Defender Stephanie Corum, asked Clem to consider probation for him while Larson asked for the maximum three-year prison sentence.
The 15-year-old who fired the gun pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter and is scheduled to be sentenced by another judge in March.