ELIZABETHTON — Carter county Sheriff Chris Mathes said his department’s investigation of the death of 4-year-old Coty Stines has resulted in a charge of reckless homicide being filed on a 13-year-old. The death occurred on July 2.
Mathes revealed the charge in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. He said the case will be prosecuted in Juvenile Court. He said his department will not release the identity of the 13-year-old.
During the initial stages of the investigation, Mathes said the 4-year-old victim had been identified as Coty Cox, but his correct last name was Stines.
The sheriff had earlier revealed the results of an autopsy that showed Stines had died from a BB that had penetrated the boy’s skull. Mathes said the 13-year-old had provided misleading information to investigators. The boy had told them Stines had been jumping on a bed when he fell and hit is head on the corner of a dresser.
“Throughout the investigation on multiple times we were given misleading information,” Mathes said.
Mathes said no charges were placed on the mother who had left her child in the care of the 13-year-old first cousin and a 10-year-old boy while she was gone for a short time. The 10-year-old boy is believed to have been asleep on a couch at the time of the shooting.
“This is a very delicate situation and our hearts go out to the family,” Mathes said.
Mathes and Assistant District Attorney General Dennis Brooks both said the evidence did not reveal an intent on the part of the 13-year-old to kill his cousin. Mathes said that was the reason behind the decision to bring the charge of reckless homicide. Even though there was no intent, he said the boy was still responsible for his actions.
The sheriff said the Department of Children’s Services will play a role in the case.
Brooks said the Juvenile Court normally works to rehabilitate an offender, especially one as young as a 13-year-old.
“Our hope is this 13-year-old will recover from this to become a productive member of society,” Mathes said.
Capt. Mike Little oversaw the investigation and said “we took painstaking efforts to build the case.” He said two BB guns were found at the scene. Both were powered by compressed air and Mathes said one could be pumped many times to give the gun a higher velocity and power.
Little said there is no forensic evidence to determine which of the BB guns was the one used. Unlike bullets, BBs do not have markings that reveal which barrel of a gun it came from.