Parents accused of murder in 9-year-old's shooting death plead not guiltyPosted: Updated:
The parents charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of their 9-year-old son were arraigned Thursday morning.
Police said Wendy and Kansas Lavarnia tried to “clean up and cover up” the shooting, delaying getting Landen medical care after he was shot last month.
Both Lavarnias entered not-guilty pleas in court Thursday. They are due back in court before Commission Virginia Richter on May 18.
Landen was shot on Monday, March 20 at the family’s Phoenix home. Wendy initially told police that her husband, a convicted felon, was not home when her 2-year-old picked up a loaded gun and shot his big brother.
As police ran their investigation, they came up with some inconsistencies.
"The account given by Landen's mother was not consistent with the physical evidence found at the scene," Phoenix Police Sgt. Vince Lewis said during a news briefing two days later.
One of those inconsistencies was a gunshot wound Kansas had suffered and, according to Lewis, "made an obvious attempt to conceal."
There also was evidence of a cover-up inside the Lavarnia home, police said.
Investigators tested for trace amounts of blood at the scene. According to court documents, those tests "revealed what appears to be a substantial amount of blood cleanup that was done inside the home prior to emergency services being called to aid [the child.] Detectives found cleaned blood residue in the master bedroom, master bath, main bath, hallway and kitchen area and sinks."
Detectives connected the dots.
"Extensive efforts were made to clean up the scene and remove evidence," Lewis said. "There was evidence of blood that was cleaned from several rooms within the home."
According to a preliminary report from the Department of Child Safety, there had been reports of suspected child abuse or neglect before involving Wendy.
Based on Arizona Department of Corrections records, Kansas spent time in prison on convictions of theft and possession of burglary tools from incidents in 2009. He was admitted on Nov. 24, 2009, and released a little more than five years ago in February 2012. As a convicted felon, Kansas is a "prohibited possessor" and thus is not allowed to own or carry a gun.
Both Lavarnias are being held in lieu of $1 million bond each.
Wendy and Kansas Lavarnia pled not guilty. Their next court date is 5/18 before Commissioner Virginia Richter.— MC Superior Court (@courtpio) April 6, 2017
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