A judge sentenced an Illinois teenager to 48 months of probation for fatally shooting his 2-year-old nephew while they were playing a game last fall.
Zachary M. Pherigo, 18, of Decatur, had pleaded guilty in March to charges of involuntary manslaughter, aggravated discharge of a firearm and obstruction of justice, according to online court records. He originally faced a first-degree murder charge, but it was dismissed as part of a plea deal.
The shooting happened Oct. 14 when Pherigo told police he accidentally shot his nephew while they were playing "cops and robbers," the Herald & Review reported.
Pherigo, who was 17 at the time, shot the toddler with a handgun he had found behind a strip mall the day before, according to WAND.
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The child, identified in news reports as Justin Lee Murphy Jr., was taken to a hospital where he later died of a gunshot wound to the torso.
Along with probation, court records indicated Pherigo was also ordered Wednesday to pay fees and court costs, submit to DNA testing and undergo a mental health evaluation.
Prosecutors had argued for a prison sentence.
The judge disagreed.
According to the Herald & Review, the judge in the case said Pherigo had shown remorse. The judge, and the victim's mother in a letter to the court, pointed out that his greatest punishment will be living with knowing he shot and killed his nephew.
The judge, however, reminded Pherigo he could face consequences if he violates the terms of his probation.