HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The parents of a 5-year-old boy killed in an accidental shooting are now facing charges in connection to his death.
Latasha Thompson is charged with making a firearm accessible to a child, which is a misdemeanor. She and the child's father, Rufus King, are charged with tampering with evidence.
Neither has been arrested.
On Dec. 3, 2022, an 8-year-old boy visiting their northeast Houston home located a .22 caliber rifle kept behind the couch, according to charging documents, and shot Mateen in the back of the head.
"(Thompson) was woken up by a loud noise in the front room," the charging document reads.
She told investigators she ran out of her room, found Mateen on the floor with his eyes closed, and noticed blood in his nose.
The 5-year-old died nine days later in the hospital.
During an interview with investigators, Thompson said her nephew from out of state had been staying at their home, and when he moved out, he left guns behind.
According to charging documents, the crime scene unit recovered two rifles at the home.
Thompson told investigators that she and King moved the rifle to a closet and hid it under a pile of clothes after the shooting.
"Our lawyers, while empathetic perhaps to parents who've lost a child, I know I am - those parents are still accountable under Texas law," District Attorney Kim Ogg said.
She said, on average, her office typically files between five and eight cases yearly for making a firearm accessible to a child.
It has been said that her office does not file charges in these cases because the parents have already been through enough. When asked, Ogg said that was untrue, and prosecutors will file charges when there is evidence to support prosecution.
"It's all about what we find in terms of post-crime," Ogg said. "The guns, the ballistics, the admission of parents, where it was, was it locked up, is the child injured, was the gun readily usable? Many factors have to be considered in charging."
In Mateen's case, she said they could file charges when they did because Thompson confessed to police.
More than seven months after his death, investigators are still waiting for evidence to be processed. The DA's office received one item in July, and ballistics are still pending.
"(King and Thompson) have been out, never having been to court for almost eight months, and I think that our society would like that to happen faster now," the district attorney said.
Ogg said there is a major delay at the Houston Forensic Science Center, and it is delaying them in filing charges.
"The city lab is in a crisis," she said. "I hope it's addressed in the immediate future by the city, by their public safety committee, by the mayor, and by his council."
Charges have not been filed in any of the six cases from May to July where a child was killed or injured after gaining access to a firearm.
"We looked through our files," Ogg said. "We don't have any of those cases yet. There are somewhere our prosecutors are supporting the investigator through search warrants, but we do not yet have the ability to file on those charges because no full case has been presented by the agency."