Aug 21, 2010 3:51 PM by Chris Welty
A Lake Charles man who hid a loaded gun
under a sofa cushion - leading to the accidental shooting of a
child - has been convicted on charges of negligent injuring and
possession of a stolen firearm.
Latheris D. Thomas, 26, on Friday was given a suspended jail
term, probation and ordered to pay $400 a month to the family of
the wounded boy, The American Press reported. It was unclear how
long the monthly payments will continue.
According to Kathy Duhon, victim assistance coordinator for the
district attorney's office, Thomas was living with the mother of a
6-year-old child at the time of the Sept. 19, 2009, incident. The
boy's 5-year-old cousin was visiting. The two found the gun and
apparently tussled over it. It went off and the 5-year-old was
struck in the head. He is paralyzed on one side.
In tearful testimony, the child's mother told state District
Judge Robert Wyatt she needs financial and emotional adoistance due
to the stress of caring for the child, who has to be transported to
doctor appointments and therapy sessions in New Orleans and
The child's grandfather said he knew Wyatt had to punish Thomas,
but asked that the defendant not be incarcerated so he can work and
help the family with medical expenses.
Defense attorney James Burks said Thomas acknowledges that
leaving the loaded pistol in the sofa was "a dumb thing to do"
and has been so distraught over the incident that he has
Burks told Wyatt that the gun was bought off the street and
turned out to have been reported stolen.
Chief felony prosecutor Cynthia Killingsworth noted that Thomas
"has always owned up to what he did." She called the incident "a
hugely sad situation."
"For a $50 gun this has occurred," she said.