ASHLAND - Prosecutor Chris Tunnell explained his decision not to charge an 8-year-old boy who reportedly shot his 4-year-old sister on Saturday.
"The overall goal of any action in juvenile court is to bring appropriate intervention to children," he said in a news release. "The juvenile justice system is not designed to address children who are 8 years old through a delinquency proceeding."
The incident happened Saturday in Hayesville. Alyssa Edwards, the mother of the two children, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to two charges of endangering children, one a felony, the other a misdemeanor.
Edwards, 27, is being held in the Ashland County Jail on a $30,000 cash bond.
Tunnell said at a bond hearing Monday that Edwards' husband left for work Saturday morning with the understanding the children would be dropped off at a babysitter.
Instead, he said, Edwards left for work at a horse-training farm, leaving the kids alone.
At some point, the 8-year-old got a .22-caliber rifle from a gun cabinet; got ammunition, which was stored in a separate place; loaded the gun; and shot his sister three or four times, Tunnell said.
Edwards reportedly was contacted at work at 10 a.m. She returned home, checked on her daughter, then clocked back in at 11 and worked until noon, Tunnell said.
The girl was taken to the hospital when she began urinating through a bullet wound in her abdomen. She is expected to recover.
"An 8-year-old lacks the capacity to understand the nature of a court proceeding," Tunnell said in the release. "It is doubtful that an 8-year-old acts with the necessary mental state to hold him legally culpable."
Tunnell said a child of that age is not eligible to be sent to a juvenile correctional facility.
"At this time, there is a pending action in the Ashland County Juvenile Court ... that is sufficient to bring all aspects of this child's situation before the juvenile court," he wrote.