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Mom pleads guilty to child abuse after son fatally shoots daughter with a shotgun

The siblings were playing "swords" when the 7-year-old boy picked up a loaded shot gun off the couch and accidentally shot his 3-year-old sister, prosecutors said.

WESTMINSTER, Colo. — A 25-year-old woman pleaded guilty to a felony child abuse charge after her 7-year-old son accidentally shot and killed her 3-year old daughter in April of 2020, the First Judicial District Attorney's Office announced.

 Michaela Dawn Harman pleaded guilty on May 4 to the following charge:

  • Felony child abuse – negligently caused serious bodily injury, a class 4 felony

The charge was related to the death of Ruby Jackson on April 21, 2020. On that day, Ruby was shot and killed by her brother while both children were in the care of Harman, prosecutors said.

Westminster police were called to 10745 Moore Cir. on a report of a child who had been shot. The responding officers found Ruby had sustained a gunshot wound to the chest. She was taken to the hospital where she later died.

RELATED: 3-year-old girl accidentally shot by 7-year-old brother, mother arrested

The investigation determined that Ruby and her brother were playing “swords” when the 7-year old boy picked up a shotgun from the couch that was out in the open and unsecured.

The little boy “pushed the button” and the shotgun discharged, striking Ruby, prosecutors said.

During a forensic interview, the boy said he didn’t know the shotgun was loaded. He reported that he had played with the shotgun the day prior and it was not loaded at that time, according to prosecutors.

Credit: Courtesy Westminster PD
Michaela Dawn Harman.

Harman admitted to detectives that on the evening prior to the shooting, she had loaded her shotgun and brought it downstairs to the main family room where the children had access.

As part of the plea agreement, Senior Deputy District Attorney Amelia Sapp noted that “caregivers of the sibling that pulled the trigger were very hopeful for a resolution short of trial due to the trauma this incident has inflicted on him, and the fear that testifying may have a greater impact on him.”

RELATED: Man arrested in connection to death of 9-month-old

Additionally, the DA considered the fact that Harman took responsibility for her negligence that led to Ruby’s death.

She's set to be sentenced on July 1 and is expected to be sentenced to probation, which will include mental health and substance abuse treatment.


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