A man has been sentenced to ten years in prison for fatally shooting his girlfriend in the head while playing with a revolver in 2019. Lafayette Hodges, 21, was on felony bond when he shot and killed Lyniah Bell in December 2019, according to prosecutors.
Court records show Hodges was charged with two counts of aggravated battery of police officers who served him with a warrant on April 8, 2019. Judge David Navarro made a handwritten note about Hodges’ background on the case cover sheet: “juvie justice attempt armed robbery.”
Despite that, Navarro allowed Hodges to go home by posting a $200 deposit.
While awaiting trial in May 2019, Hodges was charged with manufacture delivery of narcotics near a park or school. He went home on his own recognizance, and prosecutors dropped the case in June 2019.
Then, still awaiting trial for the battery case in August 2019, prosecutors charged him with manufacture-delivery of heroin. He was again released on his own recognizance. And prosecutors dropped that case in October 2019.
Hodges, who had a juvenile history of gun violations and the attempted armed robbery, told police that he thought the revolver he was playing with was unloaded when it fired and struck Bell in the head.
During Hodges’ initial bond hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Hodges told police a friend brought the gun to his house and dumped its bullets on the bed. Hodges allegedly said he picked up the gun, which he thought was empty, and pulled the trigger while pointing it at the friend, then pulled the trigger while pointing it at his own head, before pointing it at Bell’s face and pulling the trigger again. It fired.
Murphy said the friend denied giving Hodges the gun and said Hodges and Bell were “play-fighting” when the gun fired.
Hodges ran from the home before police arrived but turned himself in about six hours later.
Bell, a freshman at Michigan State University, was home for the holiday break. She graduated from North Lawndale College Prep as a member of the National Honors Society, WGN reported.
“I was very proud of her,” Bell’s mother, Evelyn Hightower, told NBC5 after the shooting. “Couldn’t ask for a better child, just hated our time was cut short.”
Court records show Hodges has pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter, while Illinois Department of Corrections records listed Hodges’ conviction as reckless homicide. Judge William Gamboney sentenced Hodges to 10 years with 822 days credit for time spent in jail before pleading. Prosecutors dropped two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of destroying evidence. Hodges is scheduled to be paroled on August 9, 2024.