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Bloomington woman faces manslaughter charge in brother's death

By Jessica Priest
Feb. 25, 2014 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 25, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.

Janie Marie Clay

A charge against a Bloomington woman accused of shooting and killing her brother on Thanksgiving was downgraded from murder to manslaughter.

Janie Marie Clay, 22, was arrested on suspicion of murder during the morning of Nov. 28.

Clay pointed a loaded gun at her brother, Richard DeLeon, and "without taking adequate precautions to prevent it," discharged it, according to court documents.

DeLeon, 17, was shot in the face. He died at Clay's home in the 400 block of Hedges Street before sheriff's deputies arrived.

A grand jury returned Clay's indictment Thursday.

Manslaughter is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Murder is a first-degree felony punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison.

Both carry a possible $10,000 fine.

For manslaughter, the state must prove Clay acted recklessly, Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler said Tuesday.

During a hearing in which Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Robert Whitaker reduced her bond from $75,000 to $40,000, Clay's mother, Sandra Ramirez, said her daughter tried to get the gun out of DeLeon's hands when the shooting occurred.

Although Ramirez had her back turned to the action, she said Clay had no motive to kill her brother.

Assistant District Attorney Eddie Wilkinson, however, contended the family made inconsistent statements to law enforcement.

He called Investigator Anthony Daniel of the Victoria County Sheriff's Office to testify.

Clay told Daniel she owned the gun her brother was shot with because she needed it for protection from a gang.

Tyler said those points will likely be brought up at trial.

"The defendant's connection to the murder weapon is critical to any homicide whether in a manslaughter or a murder," Tyler said.

Clay's attorney, Keith Weiser, declined to comment about this development in the case.

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