A 13-year-old Baton Rouge boy pleaded not guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and a gun charge in the fatal shooting of a first-grader this month in their Northdale neighborhood.

East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson set a Jan. 9 trial date for the boy.

The 13-year-old, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, appeared before the judge with his court-appointed attorney, Jack Harrison, and his grandmother, and pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and illegal possession of a firearm by a juvenile. 

Jahiem Holliday was shot to death Nov. 2 in the backyard of a home in the 1700 block of Madison Avenue, north of Memorial Stadium.

Investigators said the two boys had been playing outside among a group of people who at some point talked about making a rap video. The 13-year-old went inside his house and came back with a gun, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III has said. Investigators believe the gun belonged to the boy’s uncle.

Initially, police said the children may have gotten into an argument.

Prosecutors allege the boy pointed the gun at Jahiem, a Park Elementary School first-grader, and pulled the trigger. The defense claims the gun went off by accident while the children were playing with it.

Jahiem mother, Leteisha Holliday, and her family have said they don’t believe the shooting was accidental.

Police booked the boy on second-degree murder and the firearm charge, but Johnson on Nov. 5 found probable cause for the lesser crime of negligent homicide, as well as the firearm charge. Not bound by the judge’s finding, the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney’s Office opted instead to charge the boy on Nov. 7 with second-degree murder and the firearm count.

“We didn’t agree,” Moore said. “We thought it was more than that.”

The 13-year-old remains in juvenile custody on $15,000 bail, which was set Nov. 5.

The Advocate does not typically identify juveniles accused of crimes.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the charges the 13-year-old faces.


Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.