Deandre Kelley got into a fight with his girlfriend in Sedamsville, Ohio, on January 12. And to make his point as the couple argued outside their home Kelley pulled out a gun and fired two shots into the air. He fired the shots over his shoulder without looking as he was walking away.
One of those shots flew into an upstairs bedroom where the couple’s 11-year-old daughter was hiding, frightened and upset by her parents argument. The bullet struck the little girl, Shanti Lanza, in the chest — killing her.
Deandre Kelley admitted that he was drunk at the time. The argument started when his girlfriend would not allow him in the house in his drunken state.
Om Wednesday Deandre Kelley was sentenced to six years in prison after accepting a deal from prosecutors and and entering a guilty plea on a charge of reckless homicide, a charge that means the death was an accident. But the girl’s mother, Tina Lanza, broke out screaming in court demanding that the judge make Deandre Kelley’s sentence even shorter.
Deandre Kelley had been looking at a 20-year bid for manslaughter, child endangerment and a weapons violation. But because the dead girl’s mother demanded a lighter sentence for her boyfriend, prosecutors grudgingly offered a plea bargain, knocking the manslaughter charge down to reckless homicide and throwing the other two charges out.
“His actions were reckless, but his intent was not to kill his daughter,” said Cincinnati police Sgt. Julian Johnson. “If it was his intent, he’d be charged with aggravated murder.”
In court Wednesday, Tina Lanza erupted in anger at the sentence.
“I know Shanti would have forgave her daddy,” she declared. “This was a total accident.”
But Common Pleas Judge Nadine Allen was appalled by Lanza’s outburst.
“Does anybody think that guns shot in residential neighborhoods don’t go into buildings?” Allen asked, presumably knowing the answer to her own question. “You’re saying things that are foolish. That’s a stupid remark.”
The bizarre pleas to keep Deandre Kelley out of jail by the mother of the child he killed — a protest that was joined by the girl’s aunt — also left Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Mark Piepmeier shaking his head.
“I’ve handled dozens and dozens of child murders in my career,” said the prosecutor. “This is the first time I’ve ever had the mother of a murder victim tell me we’re treating the person that killed her child too harshly. It just makes you scratch your head sometimes, makes you wonder where people are coming from.”
Deandre Kelley was also arrested for an incident involving Tina Lanza in 2007, and for an assault in two other people four years before that.