Parents Accused Of Murder After Mom Said Toddler Shot Child

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Police say that the parents of a 9-year-old boy from Phoenix who was shot in the head in their home, delayed calling 911 as they cleaned up evidence in multiple rooms of the house.

Police are calling this case one that “shocks your conscience.”

Wendy Lavarnia told authorities that her 2-year-old son found a gun left on a bed and that he accidentally shot his older brother. Police however cast doubt on her story as they launched a murder investigation involving the 28-year-old Mother and her ex-convict husband, Kansas Lavarnia.

Police became suspicious of the mother’s story when they found inconsistencies in her story and when the boy’s father had a crudely bandaged gunshot wound on his upper arm.

The wound looked as if it was punctured multiple times, possibly with a screwdriver to conceal the injury, authorities said.

Police did not specify the mother’s inconsistencies or say who they think shot the boy and his father.

Authorities said that the parents delayed calling for medical care for their son, to clean up evidence in the house. Police declined to say whether or not they believe the boy would be alive had authorities been alerted sooner.

The lack of visible blood and the extent of blood residue implied that a significant amount of time passed before authorities were called, according to a probable-cause statement filed by police.

“We have a 9-year-old critically wounded, shot in the head, in dire need of lifesaving efforts and care, which was delayed and not provided to this young man,” police Sgt. Vince Lewis said. “It definitely shocks your conscience.”

Lewis said that the father’s appearance at the home three hours after officers started investigating was suspicious because he was injured. Evidence of blood was also found in the trunk of the vehicle that Kansas Lavarnia drove to the house.

Court documents say that the Father was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder, child abuse and hindering prosecution, while Wendy Lavarnia was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder. Prosecutors have not yet filed charges.

In a court appearance before the boy had died, the mother asked a judge whether she could go to the hospital to see the boy, but the judge said she could not leave jail without posting bond. They are now both being held in lieu of $1 million bond each.

Kansas Lavarnia was originally booked on weapons misconduct and was barred from having a gun in the home because of three 2009 convictions for theft and possession of burglary tools. He finished a three-year prison sentence in 2012.

He blamed his prior convictions on a longstanding addiction to pain medications. He claimed he started taking the drugs after he broke his back in an ATV accident when he was 15, according to court records.

Neighbours of the family said that the children could sometimes be seen outside wearing only a diaper.

“Their kids were always running in the front with their diapers on,” said Marie Mosley, who lives next door. “They always yelled and cussed at them, which I didn’t think was right, to cuss at little babies like that.”

The couple’s three surviving children are in the care of the state’s child-welfare agency.

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