- Associated Press - Sunday, January 3, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Criminal investigators don’t see many happy endings, but Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman says the recovery of a 9-year-old who suffered a gunshot wound to his head one year ago gives him hope.

Joey Slaight was shot Jan. 2, 2015, by his mother, Morgan Slaight, a recovering methamphetamine addict who also shot Joey’s 6-year-old brother, Jaxon, before she shot herself. The little brother died at the scene in Montfort, while the mother died 11 days later.

“Usually nothing good comes from tragedies like that one. Joey represents hope that you can survive and move on from it,” Dreckman told the Wisconsin State Journal for a story published Sunday (https://bit.ly/1Ot8UQM ).

Now he’s talking in sentences and he’s running, jumping, laughing, completing puzzles and playing computer games. He continues rehabilitation at a pediatric facility located within a few hours of his relatives’ homes near Tulsa, Oklahoma, according to his aunt and guardian, Andra Munoz.

“It’s just amazing. I can’t wrap my mind around the things that he’s doing,” said Munoz, the older sister of Joey’s father, Tyler Slaight, who is serving as the family spokeswoman.

Joey’s recovery has neurological experts baffled though he’ll most likely stay disabled because of his struggles with basic communication skills, she said.

Morgan Slaight grew up near Dodgeville, Wisconsin, but had lived in Oklahoma for several years before she left her husband and moved back to Wisconsin in 2014. Police say she was living with Joey and Jaxon at her sister’s home in Montfort when she threatened to kill herself on Dec. 22, 2014. She was hospitalized but released the day before the shooting, police said.

Joey has shown signs of emotional trauma from the shooting, Munoz said. He recently told his grandmother to remove a 2014 photo she had of his school class.

“He kept saying, ‘Bad day, bad day, change it,’” Munoz said. “We still don’t know what that means. But he does remember something, obviously.”

Joey’s neurosurgeon, Dr. Joshua Medow, said his efforts to save Joey, which included temporarily removing a piece of his skull to relieve the pressure on his brain, were easy compared to what Joey has ahead of him.

“My aspect was probably the easiest because it was about human physiology and anatomy and that’s it,” he said. “All the stuff that’s going on from now on, during his rehabilitation, physically and psychologically, is a lot harder.”

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This story has been corrected to show that it was the little brother, not the mother, who died at the scene.

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