CINCINNATI – The 3-year-old girl who was shot early Tuesday morning in Avondale may have accidentally shot herself with her mother's boyfriend's gun, a judge said in court Friday.
"I was told (by police) that the baby was sleeping on the floor and the gun was placed on the floor near the baby and went off and shot the baby," Judge William Mallory said at the arraignment for the boyfriend, Cordero Warren.
"It didn't happen outside, or when someone was taking out the garbage ... it happened within the four walls of that bedroom," Mallory said.
Warren, 24, and the girl's mother, Ebony McDavis, 28, originally told police that L'eah Johnson was shot in the buttocks during a neighborhood gun battle while Warren was carrying her outside their Tacoma Avenue apartment in Avondale about 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The judge set Warren's bond at $20,000. A magistrate later set McDavis' bond at $10,000. Both are accused of lying to investigators. Warren is also charged with having a firearm under disability, a third-degree felony. McDavis appeared before Magistrate Jay Littner without an attorney.
Warren is prohibited from carrying a firearm due to a 2009 drug trafficking conviction, court records show.
L'eah remained in critical but stable condition at Children's Hospital Thursday night as she continued to recover. The bullet hit L'eah in the buttocks and traveled through her abdomen before exiting her body.
Several 911 calls at the time of the girl's shooting reported gunfire in the area but “they were not related to the child’s injury,” police said in a prepared statement. Partygoers were shooting rounds in the air, District 4 Captain Mike Neville said. Calls to 911 indicate up to 20 shots were fired at approximately 2:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Neville said McDavis and Warren used the nearby incident in an attempt to cover-up the shooting of L'eah.
McDavis eventually admitted to making up the story during subsequent interviews with police.
“It was an accident and she created an entire convoluted story for that reason,” Neville told WCPO. "She threw us off course to try to assist her child and that's unfathomable to me."
Up to 20 officers contributed to the investigation, Neville said.
"Had we had honesty on the front-end, we could have brought this to a better resolution without the number of resources that were committed," Neville said.
District 4 officers also collected gifts and toys to make sure L’eah can have a happy holiday.
Other Avondale moms who knew McDavis were angry that their friend could tell such a horrible lie. A close friend of McDavis, who wished to remain anonymous, suspected McDavis' story didn't seem right.
"I just knew in my heart it was a lie," she said. "I could look at her and tell it was a lie."
McDavis's neighbor said there was no emotion from the toddler's mother.
"How am I crying harder for your child and you ain't showing no emotion at all?" she said.
According to her neighbor, McDavis was putting more thought toward her story than her own child's injury.