Crime

Parents Blame Their 9-Year-Old Son's Murder On Toddler

| by David Bonner

An Arizona couple has been accused in the March 20 death their 9-year-old son.

Police say the victim's parents, Wendy and Kansas Lavarnia, put off calling 911 as they cleaned up evidence in multiple rooms of the house in Phoenix, reports the Daily Mail.

Wendy Lavarnia blamed the apparent murder on her 2-year-old son, alleging that he found a gun left on a bed and accidentally shot his older brother, Landen Lavarnia, who was eventually taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Authorities were suspicious of inconsistencies in the mother's account of events, though they have declined to provide details.

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Their suspicions grew when the father appeared on the scene three hours later with an apparent gunshot wound on his upper arm, which they say also had puncture marks, which might have been self-inflicted to disguise what had happened. There was also evidence of blood in the trunk of his vehicle, police say.

Police filed a probable-cause statement which says lack of visible blood and the amount of blood residue implied a significant amount of time passed before authorities were called.

Sgt. Vince Lewis said: "We have a 9-year-old critically wounded, shot in the head, in dire need of lifesaving efforts and care, which was delayed and not provided to this young man. It definitely shocks your conscience."

According to court documents, Kansas is accused of first-degree murder, child abuse and hindering prosecution, while Wendy is accused of first-degree murder. They have not yet been formally charged. They each are being held in lieu of $1 million bail.

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Kansas is an ex-convict with a long record. He completed a three-year prison sentence in 2012.

As a felon, Kansas was not allowed to have firearms in his home.

He blamed his legal problems on addiction to pain medications, which he said he began taking as a teenager following a serious injury, according to court records. Once the prescription drugs became too expensive, he began using cheaper street drugs, like heroin, according to court records.

The Arizona Department of Child Safety says it investigated the parents on two occasions after two of the children were born exposed to "substance."

The couple's three surviving children are currently in the care of the state's child-welfare agency.

In a letter to parents on March 22, Washington Elementary School District confirmed that Landen was enrolled at Sahuaro Elementary School, describing him as a "kind boy" who was smart, creative and helpful to his classmates.

Sources: Daily Mail, Los Angeles Times / Photo credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office

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