CHICAGO — A Michigan State University student home on break in Chicago was fatally shot by her boyfriend as he played with a gun in an apartment on the city's South Side, prosecutors said Monday.
A judge ordered Lafayette Hodges, 18, held without bail. He faced a felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 19-year-old Lyniah Bell, who was shot in the head Friday.
“This is a tragedy that could have been avoided,” Judge Arthur Wesley Willis said, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Hodges turned himself into authorities over the weekend. A court-appointed attorney asked for Hodges to be released on electronic monitoring, which the judge declined. Police had said the shooting was believed to have been related to a domestic situation.
Assistant States Attorney James Murphy said no one in the home heard any arguing between Hodges and Bell before the shooting, and Hodges had said he "believed the revolver was unloaded."
"When [Hodges] pointed the gun at the victim, he hit the victim one time and the victim was struck in the head by a bullet," Murphy said. "The occupants of the apartment heard the shot and called 911.
Family members said attending MSU was Bell's dream and she was planning to major in business and journalism. In court Monday, they called for tougher charges in the case.
"Because how could somebody with a violent background get involuntary manslaughter... when he intentionally pointed a gun at my child head and pulled the trigger," father Darius Bell said. "We won’t be attending a Michigan State graduation like we were supposed to, so why, in three years, can he come home?"
The freshman had graduated from North Lawndale College Prep in Chicago where she participated in a theater club and was a National Honors Society member.
“We just can’t say enough good about the positive impact she had on the school community,” said Garland Thomas-McDavid, the Chicago charter school's president. “She will be missed dearly, and our hearts grieve alongside her mother and family.”
Murphy said Hodges initially stated that he was "play fighting" with lyniah when the gun went off, but later told detectives he just believed the gun was unloaded when it accidentally went off.
It’s that change in story, Hodge’s background with weapon’s charges as a juvenile, and a current case of aggravated battery of a police officer from June that gives lyniah’s parents a reason to want murder charges filed.
"He should never be free. Our babies never coming back," Darius Bell said.