Two-year-old was alone with a loaded firearm when he died from a single gunshot to the head, DA says

News

New details emerged Monday in the case of a Visalia toddler who was shot and killed Thursday.

The boy’s father 25-year-old William Stallworth was charged with murder.

Stallworth was arraigned Monday. According to the Tulare County District Attorney’s office Stallworth was at a home on Sweet Court in Visalia with his son. For unknown reasons, the boy was all alone playing in Stallworth’s car with a loaded gun in the center console.

“We believe that the child obtained a handgun while seated inside Mr. Stallworth’s car and was tragically shot in the head,” Robert Dempsie the assistant district attorney said.

Police said they are still searching for the gun, as well as another person they believe was there when it happened.

“That person after the incident occurred may have left with that weapon,” Lt. Ron Epp of the Visalia Police Department said.

Stallworth is charged with one count of murder and one count of assault on a child causing death. There’s also an enhancement which carries additional time.

Tim Ward, the Tulare County District Attorney said if Stallworth is convicted on all charges he faces life in prison.

Legal analyst David Mugridge said it’s a surprisingly harsh penalty.

“I wouldn’t have though that it would have gotten perhaps into (around 20 years) on something like that. Maybe that it could have been considered involuntary manslaughter,” he said.

The DA’s office could not give any details in the case yet. But Mugridge said there are a lot of factors to consider.

“Did the father always keep the gun there? Was the console locked and somehow the child broke in? Does the dad have prior history of doing this?,” he said.

Police said they’re still investigating exactly what happened, and putting together a timeline.

Stallworth will be back in court Thursday.

He’s currently being held without bail in the Tulare County Jail.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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