Parents Charged With Murder; Claimed Toddler Shot Son in AZ

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The New York Times says the story that Wendy Lavarnia told the police on Monday was horrifying: Her 2-year-old son had grabbed a loaded 9-millimeter handgun off a bed while her back was turned, pointed it at his 9-year-old brother and pulled the trigger. At home alone with her four children, she called the police right away. But the police now say that questions abound about the fatal shooting — including who shot the boy and whether it was an accident. On Tuesday, Lavarnia, 28, and her husband, Kansas Lavarnia, 31, were charged with first-degree murder in Phoenix in connection with Landen’s death. He died at a hospital on Tuesday afternoon, a day after he was shot.

Police said the charges are based on the great lengths the authorities believe the Lavarnias took to clean up the scene of the shooting — including the trunk of Mr. Lavarnia’s vehicle — before seeking help. Phoenix Police Sgt. Vincent C. Lewis said the parents’ extensive destruction of evidence had delayed critical and potentially lifesaving care. Lewis said authorities were still investigating who pulled the trigger on the gun that killed Landen, as well as how much time his parents allowed to pass before they called 911. They are also investigating what role, if any, the 2-year-old may have played.

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