CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — A northwest Indiana man has been sentenced to two years in prison after one of his young daughters fatally shot her sister with a handgun that had been left on a TV table.
Robert Henderson, 44, of Gary pleaded guilty Friday to neglect of a dependent in the 2012 death of his 2-year-old daughter, Jariah Henderson, admitting he knew there was an unsecured gun in his house. He will also serve four years in community corrections and two years of probation.
Henderson told the judge Jariah meant everything to him.
“This don’t stop here,” he said, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana. “I still got to deal with this.”
Henderson’s teenage son had purchased the .22-caliber semiautomatic handgun after two home invasions.
Henderson was doing laundry Jan. 14, 2012, when he heard a gunshot. He found Jariah bleeding from the head and rushed her to a hospital, where she died. She had been shot by a sister who was 3 at the time, according to court records.
Henderson was the primary care taker of the children while their mother was at work. He previously spent 10 years in prison for drug offenses and said he was trying to make up for lost time with his children and start a small business.
Prosecutors had argued for a 15-year prison sentence, calling it a case of “outright negligence.”
Lake County Criminal Judge Salvador Vasquez said the death was preventable, but also acknowledged Henderson’s pain.
“I have to believe that the weight of this tragedy is heavy on your shoulders,” Vasquez said. “You are being punished on a daily basis.”