An Omaha, Nebraska, man known to have gang affiliations has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after his daughter was shot in the face by his friend’s 22-month-old son.
Marquell Buie, 22, was convicted of negligent child abuse after leaving his loaded handgun on a kitchen counter where it was picked up and fired by the two-year-old boy. Buie’s daughter, 17-month-old Ma’Laya, was shot in the face.
The young girl survived, but she suffered the loss of an eye and extensive brain damage.
Investigators learned that Buie and a friend, 22-year-old Mosell Gulley, were smoking marijuana and watching a movie while their young children played, according to the Omaha World-Herald. The 9mm round fired by Gully’s son passed through Ma’Laya’s face before embedding itself in a hot water heater.
Buie pled no-contest to negligent child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Douglas County District Judge Mark Ashford sentenced Buie to the maximum three-year term. Which is cut in half under state law.
After he completes his sentence, Buie will serve a term of nine months of supervised release. He was also ordered last summer to have no contact with his daughter.
Doctors initially thought Ma’Laya would not survive her injuries, according to prosecutor Eric Fabian. When she was eventually released from the hospital, she entered Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital. There, therapists had to teach her to walk, talk, and eat again.
Ragine Moore, Ma’Laya’s mother and Buie’s girlfriend, told the World-Herald that doctors hope continuing rehab will allow Ma’Laya to fully recover. But it’s still too early to tell.
Moore also said that she believes the child abuse charges leveled against her boyfriend are unfair. She argued that Buie cooperated with police and wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger.
“The charges should be on the parent of the child that shot my daughter — his child was unattended,” said Moore, 22, referring to Gulley.
She told the World-Herald that she’s having trouble making ends meet after Buie’s incarceration, since his job at Nebraska Furniture Mart was the family’s source of income.
“He’s not doing good, he wants to see his baby,” she said of Buie. “It’s his daughter, and he’s missing out on her recovery process.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injury was the leading cause of death in children ages 1-4 in 2015. Drowning, traffic accidents, suffocation, and fire were the top four causes of unintentional death by injury. Negligent discharge of a firearm did not make the list.