COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A Tennessee woman who had already been convicted once before pleaded guilty a second time after prosecutors say a stolen gun she had was involved in an accidental shooting that left a young boy scared.
Tashia Lennett Woods pleaded guilty to several charges - including child cruelty - related to the 2018 incident.
According to prosecutors, Woods had traveled from Tennessee to Georgia last Memorial Day weekend with a group of adults and kids to visit Six Flags Over Georgia. Prosecutors said the group had arranged to stay at a Comfort Inn & Suites near SunTrust Park for the weekend. It was there that the troubling incident reportedly unfolded.
Prosecutors say Woods left the motel room she was staying in around 11:30 that morning to reportedly search the dumpster for marijuana they say she mistakenly threw away the night before.
While she was outside, however, prosecutors say the woman's 5-year-old nephew found a loaded gun in Woods' bag and accidentally fired it, hitting a 3-year-old boy in the face. While the bullet, thankfully, missed the child's brain, it did travel through both cheeks and blasted out several teeth. Prosecutors said it's nothing short of a "miracle" that the child survived.
The 3-year-old's screams prompted several adults to jump into action to try and help. Woods, however, reportedly was in no rush and calmly returned to the room to get the gun, then proceed to try and hide it - first in a trash can, then in a hidden compartment of a vehicle.
What's worse, prosecutors say, is that Woods and the victim's father drove the child away from the hotel instead of calling 911. Officers were ultimately called by an employee who heard the commotion and was able to provide a description of the car and a tag number.
Officers - who happened to be working at a Braves game nearby - were able to quickly respond, track down the vehicle and pull it over. It was then that the boy was taken to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for treatment.
In interviews with police, Woods reportedly vehemently denied having or knowing anything about a gun and insisted she wouldn’t lie to the detective. But others in the group said that wasn't true and told police they had seen her with the weapon - which turned out have been stolen from a gun store in a burglary several moths earlier. Further debunking Woods' story, surveillance video captured her apparently ignoring the child's cries while trying to hide the gun.
“The evidence repeatedly shows this Defendant’s total apathy and lack of concern for the victim, as well as the danger she put all of the children in. …This child was screaming, walking around after having been shot, looking for someone to help him. This Defendant was not that person,” Assistant District Attorney Lindsay Raynor said.
Also uncovered in the investigation was the fact that Woods had previously been convicted in Tennessee of selling cocaine in a school zone - as such, she shouldn't have had a gun, anyway. Recordings of phone calls from jail reportedly caught Woods admitting the gun was hers and called others "snitches."
In addition to pleading guilty to charges of second degree child cruelty this week, Woods also accepted guilt on charges of possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, theft by receiving stolen property, two counts of tampering with evidence, reckless conduct, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
A Cobb superior court judge sentenced Woods to 20 years, 12 of which will be spent behind bars.
“Your utter carelessness suggests you really do need to be off the street," the judge said during sentencing.
As for the child, now 4 years old, he is doing well, but suffered speech problems from damage to his tongue and scars to both of his cheeks. He also has nightmares of being shot.