Heather Hodges, 28, was sentenced to three years in prison after a judge deemed her actions ‘unthinkable’.
James Bailey McKeegan, 13, was surprised when the assistant principal of Magnolia Junior High, Donna Covarrubias, pulled him from his gym class and asked to search his bag. McKeegan didn’t hesitate to hand over his backpack, but he was stunned when the administrator pulled out a 9-millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun.
The school asked for a Sheriff’s Office investigator to interview McKeegan. The student faced criminal charges and expulsion, but he insisted that he didn’t know how the gun got there. “He was very believable,” Covarrubias said. “When he saw the gun, his face turned stark white.”
Attention turned to McKeegan’s family and quickly focused on Heather Hodges, who was McKeegan’s father’s live-in girlfriend. Retired investigator Mike Price interviewed Hodges and was immediately doubtful of McKeegan’s guilt.
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“Initially, we wanted to know what was (McKeegan’s) intent with the pistol. Did he bring it to school to harm someone, or just to show to his friends? He kept insisting that he knew he brought a gun to school, but he didn’t realize it until the principal found the gun in his backpack. He was insistent.”
The school had been alerted to the gun’s presence by an anonymous phone call. “It’s not the typical way a gun is found on the premise of a school,” Price said. “That, going along with what McKeegan had consistently told me, made me very suspicious.”
After repeatedly interviewing Hodges, she finally confessed she had planted the gun in McKeegan’s backpack. Ironically, she’d tried to get McKeegan in trouble for bullying her own children, ages seven and four.
Hodges pleaded guilty to unlawful carrying of a weapon on restricted premises in exchange for the dismissal of two lesser charges. She was sentenced to prison earlier this week.
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“(McKeegan’s) life will never be the same,” Judge Case told Hodges in sentencing. “It bothers me greatly. I have a bigger issue, and that’s the school. Children going to school need to be safe. They don’t need to be worried about having guns show up at school. This is not Beirut. This is Montgomery County, Texas. For whatever reason you decided to blame that child, I find irrelevant. The fact that you’re not on drugs, or have a major personality disorder puts you in the category of being someone I would call ‘evil.’”
McKeegan has since moved to Louisiana, to live with his mother.
Sources: Your Houston News