A Baltimore woman was sentenced to four years in prison Thursday for the fatal shooting of a 15-year-old girl by her 9-year-old grandson.
April Gaskins, 55, was convicted of reckless endangerment and firearm access by a minor in July and was facing a maximum sentence of six years.
Nykayla Strawder, 15, stopped on her front porch in Southwest Baltimore’s Edmondson Village neighborhood in August 2022 to talk with friends when the 9-year-old shot her once in the head, dropped the gun and ran away, police said at the time. Police said the shooting was accidental.
The 9-year-old was “showing off a gun” prior to the shooting, according to the Baltimore State Attorney’s Office, and Gaskins, a licensed security guard, told investigators she stored the handgun on the floor of the closet in her bedroom, where her grandson often watched television.
“Responsible gun ownership can be a matter of life or death for parents and guardians,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan J. Bates said in a news release. “This case shows the deadly aftermath when people are careless with firearms.”
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams oversaw a bench trial and the sentencing hearing in the case.
Brandon Mead, Gaskins’ defense attorney, criticized the sentence.
“Both April and I are very upset with the sentencing. We believe it was above and beyond what she should have been sentenced,” said Mead, noting Gaskins also has a 14-year-old daughter. “She was careless with her firearm but not reckless. What happened was tragic, but don’t compound the tragedy by putting her in jail away from her family.”