HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The 20-year old man charged in the April shooting of a five-year-old Henrico girl was already in jail on separate charges when the shooting indictments were handed down by a multi-jurisdictional grand jury.
Derick Lamond Walton Jr. faces six felonies in connection to a shooting on Bryon Street.
Kemiyah Edwards was sitting on her the sofa inside the home when a bullet struck her in the head. The five-year-old survived the shooting and has since been released from the hospital.
Walton was arrested five days after the shooting for allegedly trying to sell guns and drugs to an undercover ATF agent back in August 2018. The shooting indictments were certified by the grand jury nearly two months later.
CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said prosecutors likely did not want witnesses in the shooting investigation to testify publicly more than once. A direct indictment means there will not be a preliminary hearing in general district court where Walton’s defense attorneys could cross-examine them, Stone said.
“The evidence in violent offenses is often testimonial,” Stone said. “It depends on the testimony of people, and people are often reluctant to testify. Given these circumstances, it makes a lot of sense to directly indict a case like that.”
Kemiyah is out of the hospital but still wears a protective helmet all the time. Her family has decorated the helmet with stickers because Kemiyah thought it was ugly.
"We had to do something to give her cuteness, her sassiness back. So, the stickers help!” said Sherecka Harris, Kemiyah’s aunt.
Walton, who Harris said she does not know personally, is charged with aggravated malicious wounding in connection to the shooting. Stone said that charge has a maximum penalty of life in prison, and Kemiyah’s injuries likely resulted in the charge.
“For that offense, the prosecutor has to show there is a significant and permanent injury,” Stone said. “When there is a shot to the head, that usually will put that at that very aggravated level, which is the same penalty as first-degree murder.”
Walton declined an interview request from CBS 6.
"I almost feel sorry for him because he’s young, but it is what it is. You got to pay for what you do,” Harris said. "Kemiyah still has a lot to go through. She has another operation that she has to have on her head and everything.”
However, Harris said what once felt like a hopeless situation feels less so now because of Kemiyah’s attitude during her recovery.
"We had a lot of prayers, a lot of people praying for her, and coming through and praying with us. A lot of hope came in with that and look at her. She's a fighter,” Harris said.
Walton is scheduled to appear before a judge on the shooting charges on June 19.