Two arrested, facing felony manslaughter charges in connection with Saturday night shooting

Shooting death of child remains under investigation

By JAMES SWIFT
Posted 5/18/20

Questions linger over the weekend shooting death of a child near a Bartow County campground site.The Bartow County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) issued a media release on Sunday morning indicating the …

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Two arrested, facing felony manslaughter charges in connection with Saturday night shooting

Shooting death of child remains under investigation

Posted
Questions linger over the weekend shooting death of a child near a Bartow County campground site.
 
The Bartow County Sheriff’s Office (BCSO) issued a media release on Sunday morning indicating the child — whose name and age is not being officially released by the agency at this time — “apparently shot herself playing with a pistol.”
 
On Monday, however, both Bartow County Coroner Joel Guyton and BCSO public information officer Sgt. Jonathan White told The Daily Tribune News the shooting death remains under investigation. 
 
“We’re awaiting the results from the [Georgia Bureau of Investigation] crime lab for an actual cause of death,” White said. 
 
Guyton said the victim appeared to have died from a gunshot to the head, but he had no information on what type of firearm may have been used.
 
The media release issued Sunday indicates the shooting allegedly took place near Chitwood Cove off Wilderness Camp Road on Saturday night.
 
BCSO records indicate deputies were dispatched to the area around 8:30 p.m. A responding deputy was flagged down by the victim's parents en route to the scene.
 
“The vehicle that was carrying the juvenile was located on Highway 20 by uniformed patrol officers responding to the scene,” White said. “They began life-sustaining practices, just to try to render aid to the juvenile before ambulance services arrived on-scene.”
 
A heavily redacted BCSO incident report quotes one witness as stating "everyone was drinking alcohol but hadn't had very much" the evening of the shooting. 
 
Two individuals are facing felony involuntary manslaughter charges in connection with the child's death.
 
According to BCSO records, Kimberly Anne Roberts, 47, and James Phillip Lillie, 50, were taken into custody early Sunday morning. The two are also facing charges of receipt, possession or transfer of a firearm by a convicted felon or felony first offender and misdemeanor reckless conduct.
 
Sunday’s BCSO media release describes Roberts as the victim’s grandmother. Lillie is described as having “no known relation” to the deceased child. 
 
White said neither Lillie or Roberts were in the vehicle transporting the victim. 
 
“Units actually went out and located [them] where the incident had occurred in the area of Chitwood,” he said. 
 
White also said Roberts had an outstanding felony probation violation charge at the time of her arrest.
 
To the best of his knowledge, White said the two will not be facing additional charges.
 
White said, as of Monday afternoon, the BCSO could not confirm that the child died from an accidental self-inflicted gunshot wound.
 
“We won’t release that information just due to the case,” he said.
 
Guyton said he has no indication as to how much time had elapsed between the shooting and the initial emergency phone call. 
 
He said he did not see the victim until an hour and a half after the shooting was reported. By the time he arrived at the hospital — which is not specified by name in BCSO documents — Guyton said the child was deceased.
 
He said he could not determine how long the child had been dead at that juncture, adding that there’s no definite timetable for when a full autopsy report will return. 
 
For the time being, Guyton said the child's official cause of death remains undetermined.
 
“That’s all still under investigation,” he said.
 
As of Monday afternoon both Lillie and Roberts remain in custody at the Bartow County Jail.