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Parents of 9-year-old shot by sibling now face first-degree murder charges

Posted at 11:14 AM, Mar 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-22 14:14:53-04

PHOENIX (KNXV) - Officials believe parents of a 9-year-old boy shot in the head deliberately delayed medical treatment to the child and are now facing first-degree murder charges.

Phoenix police say Wendy Lavarnia's 2-year-old son picked up her loaded handgun and shot his older brother in the head. She told investigators she previously allowed the toddler to practice pulling the trigger of the gun when it was unloaded.

The child was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition. Tuesday evening police said the child, identified as Landen Lavarnia, had died from his injuries.

Wendy was booked into jail on four counts of child abuse for endangering her children with the loaded gun. Kansas Lavarnia, the father, was booked into jail on one count of being a prohibited possessor of a gun in the home. 

According to official documents, first-responders got to the home and found the 9-year-old suffering from a single gunshot wound to the head. Firefighters at the scene alerted police of a “lack of blood from the wound”.

Wendy, the child’s mother, told investigators Kansas was not home at the time of the shooting and had been shopping. She said she immediately called 911 and performed CPR on the child, identified as Landen Lavarnia, until help arrived.

When Kansas returned home hours later, investigators noticed a poorly bandaged wound to his arm, believed to be a gunshot wound that went completely through. He also had wounds around the gunshot wound that may have been caused by a screwdriver. Both injuries did not appear to be self-inflicted.

A search warrant turned up items that were used to bandage the wound on Kansas’s arm and clean up blood. The evidence was found in the car Kansas was driving as well as in the home’s trash can.

Officials believe a “significant amount of time and effort was taken prior to contacting emergency services”. Because of the “deliberately delayed emergency care”, charges of first-degree murder were added to both Wendy and Kansas.

Kansas also received a charge of hindering prosecution because officials believe he helped remove bloody items and had cleaning supplies in his vehicle.