A former part-time pool worker at a Kansas City apartment complex pleaded guilty Thursday to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of an 11-year-old girl on the Fourth of July.
Aaron Sullivan admitted that his gun was used to fire a stray bullet that pierced Blair Hannah Lane's neck. She collapsed as she danced during a Fourth of July party at her uncle's home.
Sullivan owned the gun that he and three friends used to fire dozens of shots. They were at the Whispering Lakes Apartments, which is separated by a lake and woods from the home where Blair was.
It will never be known whether Sullivan or one of his friends fired the fatal bullet, but Sullivan was charged because it was his gun that was used. Sullivan, 50, lost his job at Whispering Lakes over the shooting.
The Missouri General Assembly next year will consider "Blair's Law," which would make it a felony to illegally charge a firearm.
Blair's mother, Michele DeMoss, became emotional when discussing what the guilty plea means to Blair's family and friends.
"For law enforcement, this day represents justice," she said. "For us, Blair's family . . . . This day represents justice for Blair."
When Sullivan turned himself in last July, he tearfully apologized to Blair's family for what he called a stupid mistake that led to tragedy.
"I'm sorry," he said. "I knew it was wrong and I just want to tell the family, from the bottom of my heart, I'm sorry."
After his guilty plea Thursday, Sullivan reiterated that "It was just an accident." He again apologized to the family.
"I'm sorry that all this happened," he said. "My heart goes out to the family."
In exchange for Sullivan's plea, prosecutors dropped a felony armed criminal action charge. Sullivan will be sentenced Feb. 3. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison but is likely to get less than that because of his plea.
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said she hopes the lawmakers adopt "Blair's Law."
"The message we want to get out is about responsible gun ownership," she said.
Sullivan said he too supports Blair's law.
"I hope people learn from my mistake," he said. "If they pass a law, I'd be the first one to sign it."
In Blair's memory, her family began an effort to collect socks for foster children. Click here for more information.
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