- Associated Press - Friday, June 13, 2014

HASTINGS, Neb. (AP) - A Hastings woman and her live-in boyfriend face trial next month on child-abuse charges related to the shooting death of the woman’s 4-year-old son, who prosecutors say was slain by his 9-year-old brother.

The pair pleaded not guilty on Thursday in Adams County District Court and are scheduled for trial on July 28.

Police say the woman’s 9-year-old son fatally shot his 4-year-old brother on April 18. The older boy is charged with manslaughter as a juvenile.

The Associated Press generally does not identify juveniles accused of crimes. For that reason, the AP is not naming the adults or children involved the case.

Prosecutors have said police, school and mental health officials had concerns about the 9-year-old’s often violent behavior and that officials had warned both his mother and her boyfriend in the weeks before the shooting not to have guns in the house and to lock up all knives and other sharp objects.

An arrest affidavit says the mother didn’t see the urgency in securing those items and made excuses for not locking them up, such as needing knives for cooking. Police said they found six firearms and ammunition in the home after the shooting. None of the guns had been locked up.

Police said the little boy was shot with a .22-caliber rifle.

Officials also reported that the mother failed to keep several appointments with mental health officials regarding her son in the weeks before the shooting.

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