CROWN POINT — A 23-year-old man was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for reckless homicide in the shooting death of his 4-year-old nephew last May at an East Chicago apartment.
Lamario E. Delgado-Gonzalez said in an emotional statement to Judge Clarence Murray he was sorry for accidentally shooting Garrion Glover Jr. the night of May 11 at an apartment in the 3500 block of Guthrie Street.
He said he loved his nephew unconditionally and wanted to heal with his family.
“This shouldn't define me or break my character,” he said, sobbing.
Delgado-Gonzalez was arrested Dec. 17 in Normal, Illinois, and extradited to Lake County to face charges of murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death and reckless homicide in his nephew's shooting.
East Chicago police were dispatched May 11 to the 3500 block of Guthrie Street for a report of an assault with a firearm, court records state. Lajarah Delgado-Gonzalez, Garrion's mother, said she was awakened by a noise in the living room, where Garrion had been watching television and Delgado-Gonzalez had allegedly been sleeping on the couch.
The child was found lying on the floor on his back, bleeding from the mouth, not far from the couch where Delgado-Gonzalez had been sleeping. A .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun was found on a pile of clothes across from the couch and a spent shell casing was found stuck in the gun.
Delgado-Gonzalez told police he was in “a (marijuana) coma” at the time of the shooting. He submitted to a gun residue test, which was positive. He denied owning a gun, but Instagram photos showed him holding a gun in the apartment where the shooting occurred.
Delgado-Gonzalez pleaded guilty May 14 to reckless homicide, a level 5 felony, and admitted he unintentionally shot his nephew.
Lajarah Delgado-Gonzalez told Murray at Tuesday's sentencing hearing she wanted her brother to be sentenced to probation for the shooting. She said she knew her brother did not shoot her son on purpose.
Latoya Unique Glover, Garrion's grandmother, requested Delgado-Gonzalez receive the maximum sentence of six years in prison for the crime. She said Garrion's father was fatally shot more than 4 years ago and Garrion Glover Jr. was her last remaining connection to her son.
“He never got the chance to turn 5 — you killed him a week before his birthday,” she said.
Defense attorney Cipriano Rodriguez requested leniency for Delgado-Gonzalez. He said his client had six children, whom he supported through a promising rap career. He said Delgado-Gonzalez won several open mic competitions as a rap artist, and expected to sign to a record label before the shooting.
Deputy Prosecutor Nadia Wardrip said Lamario Delgado-Gonzalez had a lengthy criminal history dating back to his first arrest as a juvenile in 2009.
“He might have a budding career as a rap artist, but, respectfully, this country doesn't need more rap artists, it needs less gun violence,” Wardrip said.
Murray said, under the law, what happened to Garrion was not an accident, it was a crime. He said he believed Delgado-Gonzalez was sincerely remorseful for what happened, but noted his behavior seemed to have gotten worse since his first arrest in 2009.
“Anyone with common sense would not handle a gun with a small child in a room,” the judge said. “It's almost unfathomable anyone would do that.”
Murray sentenced Delgado-Gonzalez to five years in prison, but he suspended one year of the sentence to be served on probation.