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Miami-Dade mother arrested a month after her son shot and killed his 4-year-old sister

CBS News Miami

A Miami-Dade woman was booked into jail Wednesday after one of her sons used an unsecured gun to shoot and kill his 4-year-old sister last month. The mother’s boyfriend, who is accused of leaving the gun unattended, was arrested shortly after the shooting.

Krystal Banegas, 24, was charged with child neglect causing great bodily harm, and three counts of child negligence for each of her surviving sons who witnessed the shooting. Her boyfriend, Quavanta Demettris Ennels, 25, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, three counts of child negligence, and possession of a weapon by a convicted felon.

They remained behind bars at Miami-Dade County’s Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center as of Wednesday afternoon. Banegas’ attorney information wasn’t available. The public defender’s office, which represents Ennels, didn’t respond to the Miami Herald’s emailed request for comment.

At 3:41 p.m. Nov. 5, police rushed to the 8180 block of Northwest 21st Avenue in response to a report of a shot child. There they found the 4-year-old girl, later identified as Josalyn Taylor-Rolle, with a gunshot wound to the head, Miami-Dade police said.

Josalyn was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, where she was declared brain dead shortly after arriving. She was then taken for further testing to Holtz Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, where she was disconnected from life support Nov. 13.

An autopsy revealed Josalyn died due to a shot to the head, and the manner of death was deemed a homicide.

What happened that day?

According to court documents, Josalyn was in a bedroom with her three brothers — ages 2, 3 and 6 — when one of them grabbed Ennels’ gun. The bedroom’s door was closed while Banegas, Ennels and “other adults” were in the living room watching football.

The child then took the gun out of the bag and shot his sister in the head. When Ennels and Banegas heard the gunshot, they ran into the bedroom and found Josalyn bleeding.

READ MORE: Man arrested after child finds unsecured gun, shoots sister in Miami-Dade home: cops

Ennels was arrested shortly after because state law says that convicted felons like him can’t have guns. In 2016, he was sentenced to four years for armed robbery in Duval County, Florida Department of Corrections records show. He was released in 2018.

Ennels told police the 6-year-old shot Josalyn, and described him as a mischievous child, “always doing things he was not supposed to do.” It wasn’t immediately clear how he knew who allegedly pulled the trigger. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office declined to comment.

On Nov. 21, Banegas told investigators she didn’t know the gun was in the bedroom. She also claimed to have checked in on the kids shortly before the shooting.

“On more than one occasion she appeared more concerned about whether she would be arrested than providing investigators clear information,” a detective wrote on Banegas’ arrest warrant affidavit.

After a judge signed an arrest warrant for Banegas, she was arrested Tuesday night.

Children interviewed

Two of Banega’s three sons were interviewed, and her youngest, 2, was not because of his age, court records reveal.

While none of them admitted to shooting their sister, both said Ennels had left the gun on a dresser in the bedroom, contradicting his earlier statement when he told detectives he had left it in a book bag, according to police. The 6-year-old initially said his 3-year-old brother pulled the trigger, but later claimed his sister shot herself, police said.

Investigators found a gun holster on the floor and near the dresser, a bullet “within the south wall of the bedroom,” an empty black Taurus 9mm semiautomatic gun without a magazine on the kitchen floor, and an extended magazine loaded with 10 bullets inside a garbage bin.

Police said they also found the home in disarray after the shooting.

“The floor throughout the residence was unkempt, and cockroaches along with a rat were seen roaming the residence,” the detective wrote.

Florida’s Department of Children and Families didn’t immediately say whether the surviving children were under state custody.

Ennels and Banegas “failed” to provide “care, supervision and services necessary to maintain the physical and mental health” of the victims, the detective wrote.