A dad of seven pleaded guilty to the shooting of his 4-year-old daughter, Tahirah Phillips, last year. Maurice Phillips’ family members took the stand and they recounted the events that took place on the day of the tragedy.
Court records show that Maurice shot Tahirah on April 16, 2016, in their home in East Kensington, Philadelphia. As a witness, 11-year-old Nasheema Riddick told the judge that she was watching Spongebob Squarepants with her five siblings while her stepdad was playing with his gun.
“He called it his toy,” the 11-year-old told the court. “It went off.”
Riddick recalled that when the gun was fired, she immediately saw her sister, Tahirah, bleeding on the floor. When the police arrived, the girl was already dead due to the gunshot wound to her head.
Although she testified that it was Maurice who caused the death of her sister, Riddick said that her stepfather did not intend to kill Tahirah. She explained that it was an accident and noted that her stepdad was not pointing the gun at anyone when it went off. The bullet just bounced back and hit the little girl after her stepdad shot the television.
Based on the court papers, Maurice took the wounded 4-year-old to another room after the shooting. He then told the other kids to tell police that it was their 5-year-old sister who shot Tahirah.
As it turned out, Maurice was trying to frame his other daughter, Amisha Phillips, for the incident. He punched the girl and wiped blood on her hands and clothes to make her appear as the culprit.
Riddick said that her stepfather was trying to whip up an alibi to make the investigators believe that his two young daughters fought and it ended with the death of the younger sibling.
At the time of the incident, it was learned that the mother of the kids was visiting a neighbor and Maurice was left at home with seven children, ages 13, 10, 5, 4, 3, 1 and a 7-month-old infant.
WTOP reported that after calling his wife back to their home, Maurice left the house on a bicycle to see his two sisters before submitting himself to the authorities. He then admitted to accidentally shooting his daughter.
At prayer vigil in Kensington for those lost to gun violence last weekend, including 4-yr-old Tahirah Phillips pic.twitter.com/o3a37ziCAY— Robert Moran (@RobertMoran215) April 21, 2016
Francis Carmen, the defense attorney, said that the accused was incredibly remorseful and had accepted full responsibility for what happened.
The lawyer also said that Maurice is legally disabled with an intellectual disability that places him below the lower half of 1 percent of the population. Although this is the case, Carmen noted that Maurice is actually a devoted father who loves spending time with his children at home.
Meanwhile, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the sentencing for this case has been scheduled for January 5. Maurice Phillips is facing charges of child endangerment, evidence tampering, and reckless endangerment.
[Featured Image by the Philadelphia Police Department]