A 30-year-old Hastings man has taken a plea deal in the negligent death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.
Matthew Edwards of 907 N. Saunders Ave. pleaded no contest to negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury Tuesday afternoon in Adams County District Court. The charge is a Class 3A felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
In exchange for his plea, prosecutors reduced the charge from negligent child abuse resulting in death, a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Adams County District Judge Stephen Illingworth ordered a pre-sentencing investigation and set sentencing for Sept. 22 at 2 p.m.
Edwards' co-defendant, Amanda Pecor, 29, of 907 N. Saunders Ave., also appeared in court Tuesday, but her case was continued to Sept. 8 at 9:30 a.m. for a pre-trial hearing. She faces a count of negligent child abuse resulting in death, a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
Police say Pecor's 9-year-old son shot his 4-year-old brother with a rifle on April 18.
Prosecutors say police, school and mental health officials had concerns about the 9-year-old's often violent behavior and that officials had warned both his mother and her boyfriend in the weeks before the shooting not to have guns in the house and to lock up all knives and other sharp objects.
An arrest affidavit says the mother didn't see the urgency in securing those items and made excuses for not locking them up, such as needing knives for cooking. Police found six firearms and ammunition — none of which had been locked up and were easily accessible — in the home after the shooting.
Officials also reported that the mother failed to keep several appointments with mental health workers regarding her son in the weeks before the shooting.