Philadelphia father sentenced in shooting death of son, 4

January 24, 2013 12:31:30 PM PST
A Kensington man will serve 9 to 18 years in prison in connection with the shooting death of his 4-year-old son.

Javier Merle was sentenced Thursday, a year and a half after 4-year-old Javier Merle, Jr. found his father's 9 millimeter handgun and shot himself in the head.

Merle pleaded guilty in August 2012 to manslaughter, weapons offenses and possession of heroin with intent to sell.

Police investigating the July 2011 death found that Merle sold heroin from his Clementine Street home and kept the handgun, its serial numbers obliterated, in a sofa cushion.

Merle and two brothers-in-law left the child unattended when they went down the street to take part in a neighborhood brawl.

"They left a loaded gun in a sofa cushion with a child unattended and the child shot himself in the face," said Assistant District Attorney Lorraine Donnelly back in August. "It went in his eye and out the back of his head."

Merle's lawyer told Action News the evidence was overwhelming and a guilty plea was the only way to go.