Jahiem Holliday

Jaheim Holliday pictured at his kindergarten graduation in spring of 2018. 

Trying to emulate rappers in a music video, a charade quickly turned tragic when a gun in a 13-year-old's hand went off, fatally striking his first-grade neighbor. 

That 13-year-old, now a year older, testified Monday in juvenile court that he had grabbed the gun from inside his Northdale home after he and other neighborhood children, including brothers of the first-grader, decided to create a robbery scene in their rap music video. But at some point while he was holding the gun practicing the scene, it went off, killing 6-year-old Jahiem Holliday. 

On Monday morning, the now 14-year-old pleaded guilty to negligent homicide in the shooting before East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor. He now faces up to five years in custody. 

The boy, 13 when he was arrested, turned 14 in February. 

Prosecutors accepted the plea deal after meeting with the boy's attorney and reviewing all the evidence, said East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III. He said the version of events from the boy seemed "factually in line with what actually happened." 

Prosecutors had previously charged the 14-year-old with second-degree murder and illegal possession of a firearm by a juvenile, despite the judge finding probable cause only for negligent homicide. The firearm charge was dropped Monday, along with the murder charge, which was reduced to negligent homicide. 

East Baton Rouge Assistant District Attorney Courtney Myers told the judge Monday that investigators believe the boy had pointed the gun at Jahiem, fatally striking the first-grader once in the head. She also said they believe the gun had belonged to the boy's uncle. 

However, no adults have been arrested in the case. Moore noted that Louisiana, unlike many other states, does not have gun-owner responsibility laws that place criminal liability on adults who give children unsupervised access to firearms.  

So in this case, Moore said, the negligent homicide charge is most appropriate for everyone involved.  

"I feel for the victim's family," Moore said Monday afternoon. "These are very difficult cases and choices to make under real tragic circumstances." 

Jahiem's family members filled the waiting area outside the courtroom Monday, most in white T-shirts adorned with photos of Jahiem and the words: 'Justice for Jahiem.' They declined to speak with a reporter after hearing about the plea agreement. 

Family members had previously said they did not believe the shooting was an accident. 

The boy charged in the crime, who has been out on bail, wore a white button-down shirt and a black tie during Monday's hearing. He sat between his court-appointed attorney, Jack Harrison, and his grandmother. Harrison declined to comment on the case after the plea agreement. 

The Advocate does not typically identify juveniles accused of crimes.

Johnson will determine the 14-year-old's adjudication — the child-equivalent to a sentence — on July 10. She explained the punishment for the crime of negligent homicide carries a maximum of five years in custody.

Moore said Jahiem's family will have a chance to speak to the judge at the July adjudication. 

Jahiem was shot to death Nov. 2 in the backyard of a home in the 1700 block of Madison Avenue, north of Memorial Stadium. Both Jahiem and the boy charged in the shooting lived on that street. 


Follow Grace Toohey on Twitter, @grace_2e.