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Man convicted of shooting child at Henrico home

Posted at 1:00 PM, Dec 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-17 13:41:54-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- One of two men charged in the 2019 shooting of two-year-old Lavier Robinson, pleaded guilty to two charges in Henrico Circuit Court on Thursday.

Lavier, his mother, and grandmother watched in court as Ara Donnell McLaughlin Jr. entered guilty pleas to aggravated malicious wounding and use of a firearm, as part of a plea agreement between the defense and Commonwealth.

Lavier was shot in the head in December 2019 while standing in the doorway of his Winston Street home.

His grandmother, Harneatha Atkinson, said it happened right in front of her.

"No matter what anyone does, no one should shoot someone's house," said Atkinson. "I mean no matter what they give him -- whether it's a year, 100 years, it's not going to solve that the baby got hurt."

The Commonwealth provided surveillance footage showing McLaughlin entering the vehicle that was allegedly used in the shooting at a nearby gas station, driven by the co-defendant, Randy Onan Vaughan Jr.

A witness said McLaughlin entered with a gun, according to the Commonwealth.

From there the Commonwealth argued that witnesses and cell phone data showed McLaughlin drove past the house once and then emptied the clip the second time around.

The Commonwealth said in a January 2 interview, when confronted with evidence McLaughlin admitted to emptying the clip, and to seeing someone outside the house.

McLaughlin was represented by Tim Baskerville, who argued in court, that this was a complex case -- and that there’s more to the story.

Among other things, he said this incident was a result of several factors including the upbringing and mental health of the defendant.

Baskerville also alleged there had been an ongoing conflict between McLaughlin and a member of Lavier's household.

Aggravated malicious wounding carries statutory 20 years to life and use of a firearm is three years mandatory minimum.

Under the plea agreement, the sentence was to be left up to the court's sole discretion.

That sentencing date was scheduled for March 9.

"I'm praying that justice can be served," said Atkinson. "And I'm going to be here on March 9 when justice is served. And I'm going to have Lavier here with me."