It was a tragedy that could have been prevented. A two-year-old had access to a gun. He found it and accidentally fired it at his dad, killing him. Now, the mother of the child is facing criminal charges and will face the consequences of the terrible accident.
How Did a Two-Year-Old Shoot His Father?
Reggie Mabry, 26, and Marie Ayala, 28, lived in an Orlando home with their three young children. One afternoon, Mabry was playing video games in the same room as two of his sons — and a loaded gun.
A shot went off and hit Mabry. Ayala called the police and began performing CPR on Mabry. First responders arrived, but it was too late. Mabry was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
At first, investigators thought the shooting was suicide. Then, one of the boys in the room told his mom and authorities what happened. The five-year-old didn’t know how the younger boy got a hold of the weapon, but he said the two-year-old had found the gun and shot it, as reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
At this point, the responsibility for the shooting fell onto the mother.
Why Was the Mother Charged?
Ayala was charged with manslaughter by culpable negligence, among other charges. Authorities say she was responsible for the child having access to the gun, which made her responsible for the shooting and death of Mabry.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina said, “The gun was not properly stored. In fact, it was easily accessible, even to a two-year-old, and the result is a tragedy that no one in this community can really comprehend.”
It turned out that there should never have been a gun in the house in the first place. Both Mabry and Ayala are convicted felons and were not legally allowed to possess a gun.
Related: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference?
What Is Manslaughter?
In addition to the manslaughter by culpable negligence charge, Ayala also faces charges for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and violation of probation. In the past, both Ayala and Mabry had been on probation for child neglect and narcotics possession.
A manslaughter charge is a step below a murder charge, but it is very serious. In Florida, manslaughter by culpable negligence is a second-degree felony.
Manslaughter is defined under Florida Statute 782.07. It’s different from a murder charge because there is no intent to kill. In manslaughter cases, the defendant did one or more of the following.
- Intentionally completed an act that led to the death of another person.
- Persuaded or encouraged another person to complete an act that led to that person’s death.
- Was culpably negligent which led to the death of another person.
It is not entirely unusual for a parent to be held liable for the action of their children.
In December 2021, the parents of 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley were charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter after they bought their son a gun which he took to school and used to injure seven people and kill four more. His parents each face four counts of involuntary manslaughter, one for each person killed by their son.
Related: How Much Jail Time Could Parents of Oxford School Shooter Get?
What Consequences Does the Mother Face?
In Florida, the consequence for manslaughter by culpable negligence is up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and a $10,000 fine.
Ayala faces these penalties, as well the penalties from the other charges: possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, and violation of probation.
Possession of a firearm by a convicted felon alone can result in up to 15 years in prison, a $10,000 fine, and up to 15 years of probation.
In some situations, a criminal manslaughter case can also lead to a civil wrongful death case. Families of those killed can file a civil case against the party whose negligence led to the death of their loved one. At this time, a wrongful death case seems unlikely since the man who died was married to the woman being held liable for his death.
In the end, it’s a terrible tragedy that will impact the lives of the entire family, and it could have easily been prevented.
Related: How Do You Sue for Wrongful Death?
Protect Your Family and Yourself
Serious criminal charges can impact you and your entire family. If you or someone you love is facing criminal charges, talk to a criminal defense attorney right away. If you have a case to discuss, contact the office of TJ Grimaldi today.
Talk to TJ directly about the details of your case. Schedule your free consultation or call 813-226-1023.