Titania Williams Mitchell and Culpable Negligence Law

From Cynthia Veintemillas, 20 Miles Law, Jacksonville, FL

Arrests in Jacksonville FL for Culpable Negligence in Accidental Shooting

Titania Williams Mitchell was killed in an accidental shooting on Saturday afternoon. Lt. Rob Schoonover of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office stated that several children, ranging from ages 13 to 1, were in the house at the time of the shooting.  There were no adults present.  Mitchell was 13-years-old.  The children found a gun inside of the house and were playing with it.  The Florida Times Union reported, “The 11-year-old told investigators he was playing with the handgun and went in a bedroom where Titania was when it went off. The bullet struck her in the forehead, killing her instantly.”

The two adults that were living in the house were the shooting occurred.  “Trashonda Jenice Richardson, 28, whose 11-year-old son fired the .22-caliber handgun that killed Titania Williams Mitchell, was charged with culpable negligence, along with her boyfriend, Eric Maurice Pearlman II, 39.”  The gun belonged to Pearlman.  The stated that it was “high on a closet top shelf tucked between some clothing.”  “Police found the handgun on a dresser in the bedroom and a witness told investigators she saw it on the dresser before the shooting.”  (Jacksonville.com)

Under Florida criminal laws, culpable negligence can range from a felony to misdemeanor charge.  Florida Statute 784.05 defines culpable negligence and is set forth below.

784.05 Culpable negligence.

(1) Whoever, through culpable negligence, exposes another person to personal injury commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.775.083.

(2) Whoever, through culpable negligence, inflicts actual personal injury on another commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s.775.083.

(3) Whoever violates subsection (1) by storing or leaving a loaded firearm within the reach or easy access of a minor commits, if the minor obtains the firearm and uses it to inflict injury or death upon himself or herself or any other person, a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084. However, this subsection does not apply:

(a) If the firearm was stored or left in a securely locked box or container or in a location which a reasonable person would have believed to be secure, or was securely locked with a trigger lock;

(b) If the minor obtains the firearm as a result of an unlawful entry by any person;

(c) To injuries resulting from target or sport shooting accidents or hunting accidents; or

(d) To members of the Armed Forces, National Guard, or State Militia, or to police or other law enforcement officers, with respect to firearm possession by a minor which occurs during or incidental to the performance of their official duties.

When any minor child is accidentally shot by another family member, no arrest shall be made pursuant to this subsection prior to 7 days after the date of the shooting. With respect to any parent or guardian of any deceased minor, the investigating officers shall file all findings and evidence with the state attorney’s office with respect to violations of this subsection. The state attorney shall evaluate such evidence and shall take such action as he or she deems appropriate under the circumstances and may file an information against the appropriate parties.

(4) As used in this act, the term “minor” means any person under the age of 16.

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