Only On 13: Mother of 16-year-old shot by 14-year-old cousin doesn't believe it was accident

Brooke Taylor Image
Thursday, May 18, 2023
Mom of teen accidentally shot to death wants to know what happened
A mother wants answers after her 16-year-old daughter was accidentally shot and killed by her own 14-year-old cousin, who is now charged with manslaughter.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The mother of a 16-year-old who deputies say was accidentally shot and killed by her 14-year-old cousin believes there was more to the story rather than an accident.

Juanita Williams is still struggling to process the devastating reality of losing her daughter, Jamilyn Darby. According to deputies with the Harris County Sheriff's Office, Jamilyn was accidentally shot in the head by her 14-year-old cousin on Redwood Manor Lane in Cypress earlier this month.

Officials say the 14-year-old was playing with a gun when it went off. Another boy who was also in the room witnessed the shooting.

The teen, who won't be named because he is juvenile, fled the scene and was later found. His charges were upgraded to manslaughter when Jamilyn died.

Williams questions how this could have been an accident.

"The way it was done, I don't believe it was an accident," Williams said. "I don't believe you can accidentally shoot someone in the back of the head."

She said the home belonged to a friend of the 14-year-old. The Harris County Sheriff's Office told ABC13 that no adults have been charged, which isn't something that surprises legal expert Steve Shellist.

"It's rare," Shellist said. "It's not a heavy penalty offense, so it's rarely pursued."

According to Texas law, an adult can be charged with making a firearm accessible to a child if a child gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm and the person with criminal negligence failed to secure the firearm; or left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access.

The charge is a Class C misdemeanor, unless there is death or serious bodily injury, then it becomes a Class A misdemeanor.

"So, nobody is going to prison," Shellist said. "In all likelihood, nobody is going to jail, and most people get probation on a Class A misdemeanor,"

According to Shellist, when a child has shot another child, many times it is a family member, and law enforcement, he said, is hesitant to add further grief to the family.

Under the law, it states a peace officer or other person may not arrest the actor before the seventh day, after the date on which the offense is committed, if the actor is a member of the family of the child who discharged the firearm and the child in discharging the firearm caused the death or serious injury to the child.

While the death of her 16-year-old daughter does involve family, Williams said she is going to keep fighting to find answers.

"Where did he get the gun? Where did it come from? The people there are saying it's not my gun, so we don't know," she said.

The family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.

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