Wednesday, August 09, 2017

TOP STORY >> Girl’s shooter gets five years

Leader staff writer

White County Circuit Court Judge Robert Edwards last week sentenced Jeremiah Owens, 26, of Beebe to five years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.

Owens had pleaded guilty on July 7 to a felony charge of manslaughter in White County Circuit Court in the death of Karma Wezowicz, 7, who was shot on Feb. 27 at 210 S. Cypress St., Apt. D.

Wezowicz succumbed to her injuries four days later at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He entered a not-guilty plea in April.

According to the affidavit, Beebe Police were called at 8:03 p.m. on Feb. 27 to the apartment. The caller reported hearing screaming, shuffling and a gunshot.

Police arrived to see Matthew Wezowicz standing in the driveway of the residence holding his daughter.

She had a gunshot wound near her right eye. She was taken to Arkansas Children’s Hospital.

The girl was pronounced brain dead on March 1 and removed from a ventilator on March 4.

Matthew Wezowicz was interviewed by Beebe police investigators. Wezowicz said he, his mother, his daughter and Owens were in the home at the time of the shooting. Wezowicz purchased a new Taurus .38-caliber handgun earlier in the day. He had it in a holster on his right hip.

He said Owens was sitting next to him on a loveseat and asked to see the gun. He handed Owens the gun. Owens handed it back to him and Wezowicz placed the gun back in the holster.

Wezowicz said a few minutes later, he looked at his daughter, who was sitting on a couch beside the loveseat. Wezowicz heard a gunshot and saw his daughter fall forward.

Owens told investigators he was at Wezowicz’s home for 30 minutes. Before he came over, he drank two 32-ounce cans of beer and took a couple of valium pills.

Owens said Wezowicz had the gun out, and he asked if he could look at it. Owens said he did not know the gun was loaded. Owens had the gun down in his lap looking at it and the gun fired.

Police found the gun underneath the loveseat where Owens was sitting. Investigators said it appeared the bullet passed in front of Matthew Wezowicz. It went through the arm of the loveseat before striking the girl.

A search warrant was obtained for Owens’ blood and the sample tested positive for benzodiazepines and cannabinoids.

His blood alcohol level was found to be 0.11.