Man pleads guilty to lesser charge related to shooting death of Hasting woman's 4-year-old son


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HASTINGS, Nebraska — A Hastings man has taken a deal and pleaded guilty to a charge related to the shooting death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.

Meanwhile, the woman's 9-year-old son has been charged with manslaughter, accused of using a .22-caliber rifle to fatally wound his little brother in April.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. For that reason, the AP is not naming the adults or children involved the case.

The 31-year-old man made his plea Tuesday in Adams County District Court to negligent child abuse resulting in serious injury, a lesser charge than the original, which was negligent child abuse resulting in death. His sentencing is set for Sept. 22.

A hearing for the boy's mother was postponed to Sept. 8. The 30-year-old woman has pleaded not guilty to a committing child abuse negligently, resulting in death.

Prosecutors have said police, school and mental health officials had concerns about the 9-year-old's violent behavior and that officials had warned both his mother and her boyfriend in the weeks before the April 18 shooting not to have guns in the house and to lock up all knives and other sharp objects.

An arrest affidavit says the mother didn't see the urgency in securing those items and made excuses, such as needing knives for cooking. Police said they found six firearms and ammunition in the home. None of the guns had been locked up.

Officials also reported the mother failed to keep several appointments with mental health officials regarding her older son in the weeks before the shooting.

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