A Chicago man is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge after prosecutors say he shot his girlfriend in the head with what he allegedly believed was an unloaded gun.
Lafayette Hodges, 18, turned himself in to police on Saturday morning at around 4 a.m., hours after Lyniah Bell, a 19-year-old student at Michigan State University, was fatally shot in the head, NBC Chicago reports.
Hodges was allegedly “play[ing]” with a gun in his home on Friday evening that he believed to be unloaded; he said that he first pointed the gun at the person he said gave him the weapon, and then pointed it at himself, and squeezed the trigger both times, with nothing happening, according to the outlet. He then pointed the gun at Bell and it went off, striking her in the head, per the outlet’s report. She was reportedly pronounced dead at the scene.
Bell and Hodges had been dating for nine months and Bell, who was in the Chicago area over Christmas break, was staying at Hodge’s home at the time of the shooting, according to the outlet. Following the shooting, Hodges reportedly fled the scene and placed phone calls to two people, a witness to the shooting and his mother, claiming that Bell’s death was an accident, before eventually surrendering to police.
Hodges has since been charged with one count of involuntary manslaughter, the Chicago Tribune reports. On Monday, a judge ordered that he be held on $50,000 bail, in addition to ruling that he’d violated the terms of his bail in an earlier case involving the alleged assault of police officers, according to the outlet.
Bells’ family, who reportedly were not in favor of their daughter’s relationship with Hodges, do not approve of how the case has proceeded, multiple outlets report. Before telling authorities that he did not know that the gun used to kill Bell was loaded, Hodges initially claimed that he and Bell were “play fighting” prior to the shooting, according to ABC 7.
It’s a story that Bell’s family doesn't believe, and they have criticized the court for setting bail at $50,000, according to NBC Chicago.
“There's a lot of unanswered questions,” said Joseph Wright, a man described by the outlet as the victim’s cousin-in-law. “This guy had a long time to make up these things for the court to sit back and do a $50,000 bond. It is disgraceful.”
Hodges faces a maximum of five years behind bars if convicted, according to the Tribune.
Bell was in her first year at MSU, where she intended to major in business and journalism and one day pursue her goal of becoming a news anchor, the outlet reports. As a student at the North Lawndale College Prep school, she’d been a National Honor Society member, and she went on to attend MSU on an academic scholarship.
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.