Charges have been downgraded in the April shooting death of a Macon toddler.
Bibb County grand jurors voted Tuesday to indict Ronnie William Howard on an involuntary manslaughter charge, according to Bibb County Superior Court records.
Howard, 36, was charged with reckless conduct April 30, the day his girlfriend’s 17-month-old son, Victor Carroll, was fatally shot. Howard said he was cleaning his gun when it fired.
The charge was upgraded to murder by the time he stood before a magistrate the following day.
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Howard cried during the hearing, saying “it was an accident.”
Tuesday’s indictment alleges Howard was “handling a loaded handgun in a manner which consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk.”
During the course of the investigation, prosecutors determined involuntary manslaughter was a more appropriate charge, Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy Scott Malcor said.
Howard told deputies after the shooting that the gun jammed as he was cleaning it in the living room of the Thomaston Road mobile home he shared with the boy’s mother, according to an incident report.
He stripped the magazine from the gun and racked the slide to release the bullet stuck in the chamber. As he put the magazine back in, the gun fired and the child was shot in the face, he told officials.
The couple rushed the boy to a local hospital where he later was pronounced dead.
Howard has been held at the Bibb County jail since the day of the shooting. He doesn’t have a bond, according to jail records.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398 or find her on Twitter@awomackmacon.