No indictment in fatal accidental shooting of 3-year-old boy

Prosecutor says mother’s loss exceeds the state’s power to punish

Marques Green, 3, of 709 Gordon Smith Boulevard, found a Ruger 9 millimeter semi-automatic pistol in his mother’s purse on the kitchen table June 11, and fired one shot, hitting himself in the chest. Minutes later the toddler died at Fort Hamilton Hospital.

A grand jury was presented Tuesday with the results of a Hamilton Police Department investigation, which included statements from witnesses, autopsy results and a ballistic analysis of the firearm. The grand jury considered misdemeanor and felony child endangering charges against Marques’ mother, but returned no indictment after hearing all the evidence and deliberating.

Gmoser said the investigation concluded the toddler’s death was an accident that occurred when he was handling the gun. In addition to his mother, Marques’ 10-year-old brother was also in the house when the single shot was fired.

“These factors confirm that Marques Green died accidentally from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chest and confirms that the availability of this firearm came from the child’s mother who failed to secure the firearm from her purse, where it was kept for her self-protection and found by the child resulting in its discharge,” Gmoser said.

The prosecutor said he could not divulge specifics of the grand jury’s deliberation.

“One may speculate that deference was given to the tragic loss to all concerned resulting from a short lapse in judgment, resulting in the availability of a loaded unsecured firearm to a curious 3-year-old child. The shear enormity and permanency of this loss to the mother far exceeds the power of the state to punish the mother for her inattention under circumstances that should have been obvious to her.”

Gmoser said the mother had a conceal-and-carry permit and firearm training. The gun was loaded, and there was a bullet in the chamber.

“She usually carried the gun in a holster in her back,” Gmoser said. “Even the 10-year-old didn’t know the gun was in her purse.”

The toddler was just fishing around in his mother’s purse and pulled out the weapon, which did have a safety, but the trigger was easily pulled by the boy, Gmoser said.

“He probably didn’t even know what he had. He was just playing around in mom’s purse,” Gmoser said. “To be sure, the punishment she will impose on herself will far exceed any punishment that may otherwise have been available to do justice in this tragedy.”

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