5-year-old girl killed while sitting on her grandfather's lap

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MILWAUKEE (WITI)-- A jury trial began Monday, September 26th for one of three men charged in connection with the shooting death of five-year-old Laylah Petersen. Petersen was shot while inside a home near 58th and Fairmount on November 6, 2014. It was a crime that shocked the city.

Laylah Petersen would have turned six years old on September 23rd, 2015. But her young life was cut short when she was shot while she was sitting on her grandfather's lap inside a home near 58th and Fairmount on November 6, 2014 -- watching TV along with her seven-year-old sister Destiny and her grandmother.

Petersen died at the hospital, as a result of two gunshot wounds to her head. Her death was ruled a homicide.

According to a criminal complaint, 12 9mm casings were recovered from the scene, along with a total of seven deformed bullets/bullet fragments. A Wisconsin Crime Lab analysis of the 12 casings revealed two firearms were used in this shooting.

"One of these bullets penetrated through the skull of five-year-old Laylah Petersen, exiting her skull inside the residence. You'll hear from the grandparents that when this happened, they were simply watching TV. One of the little girls, a sister of Laylah was reading a book, playing with her stuffed animal when all the sudden these gunshots rang into their home," Sara Lewis, prosecutor said on the first day of the jury trial for Carl Barrett Jr.

Petersen's grandmother was overcome with emotion when speaking about the events of November 6th, 2014.

"We're sitting there and all I hear is a 'ping' through the picture window and I said 'what the heck was that?' And I saw it go over my head and then I heard 'boom, boom, boom' -- three or four, and all of a sudden Robert says 'get to the floor. Get to the floor.' And then as I crawled on the ground, when I retrieved my phone I called 911 and next thing you know Robert says 'Laylah's been hit,'" Margarita Fogl said.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said the shooting death of Laylah Petersen occurred on the same day a man was acquitted in a murder trial in Milwaukee County -- and Chief Flynn said the suspects "shot the wrong house."

21-year-old Carl Barrett Jr. faces the following charges in this case:

  • First degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • First degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime (three counts)

In August, Barrett pleaded not guilty -- and Monday was the first day of his jury trial.

A criminal complaint filed in this case says Arlis Gordon was in court on November 6th, 2014 as a jury was deliberating in a homicide case. The complaint indicates Gordon was the homicide victim's "brother."

The complaint says during a break in the court proceedings, Gordon contacted a man and asked him to lend Gordon a firearm. Then, Gordon -- accompanied by Carl Barrett, met the man at Paul Farr's home, and the man gave Gordon a firearm.

According to the complaint, the firearm was a "unique looking 9mm semi-automatic handgun, green in color, with a camouflage pattern on it."

Late on the afternoon of November 6th, 2014, the jury deliberating in the homicide case acquitted the man facing charges -- issuing a not guilty verdict.

Police say following the verdict, a man reported he ran into Gordon near Sherman and Villard -- and said Gordon was "very upset," and intoxicated. That man indicated Gordon was talking about his brother's killer, and that he stated: "He killed my brother and he's getting out! This can't be going on. I'm gonna do something about it."

The complaint says around dusk on November 6th, Gordon called Farr and told them "they could come get the gun." Shortly thereafter, Farr, Barrett and another man got into Farr's vehicle and drove to a location where Gordon's family was gathering after the jury's verdict was heard.

Eventually, Gordon got into Farr's vehicle -- and the men drove towards a location referred to as "Baby Girl's house."

At one point during this ride, the complaint indicates Gordon asked that the vehicle stop, because he had to pick something up. Cell phone records showed at this point in time, Farr's phone was located very close to the scene of the homicide of Laylah Petersen (58th and Fairmount.)

The complaint says Gordon and Barrett exited the vehicle -- and Farr and the other man stayed inside.

A few seconds later, the man in the vehicle with Farr told investigators he heard "a barrage of gunfire."

Within seconds, Barrett and Gordon got back into the vehicle -- and Farr drove away.

Laylah Petersen died at the hospital, as a result of two gunshot wounds to her head.

The men continued driving towards "Baby Girl's house" on 42nd Street. There, the complaint indicates two firearms were placed on a table, and Barrett and Gordon began talking about the shooting, with Gordon telling the group: "I emptied the whole clip! We lit the whole (expletive) up!"

The complaint indicates the fourth man who was with Gordon, Barrett and Farr on November 6th told investigators he encountered Barrett in jail -- and Barrett told the man that "they meant to hit the house of Gordon's brother's killer, or the house where his baby's mama stays, but that they shot into the wrong house." Police say Gordon asked that the man "keep his mouth shut."

The home of Gordon's brother's killer's girlfriend is four blocks from the scene of the homicide (at 54th and Fairmount), according to police.

Gordon faces the following charges:

  • Second degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, as party to a crime
  • Second degree recklessly endangering safety, as party to a crime (three counts)
Gordon will be sentenced on December 8th after pleading guilty.

Farr faces two felony counts of harboring/aiding a felon. Farr has pleaded guilty to both charges as part of a deferred judgement agreement.

He will be sentenced on October 21st.

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