An Orange, Va., man is being held without bond after prosecutors revealed the shooting death of his fiancee's 10-year-old son may not have been an accident.
Billy Joe Lee faces charges of shooting in commission of a felony, felony child neglect, child endangerment and discharging a weapon in a house. The victim's mother, Tina Toombs, is charged with felony child neglect. Her son, George Toombs, was found shot to death the family's home late Sunday night.
At a bond hearing Tuesday, prosecutors revealed surprise information, saying they now believe the shooting was intentional.
"It appears Mr. Lee has indicated he is an excellent shot and tends to shoot what he's aiming for," Orange County Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Clarissa Berry said. "He had admitted to being the one who shot the young child."
Lee blurted out: "I did not say that."
"It's the commonwealth's position that he shot the boy ... and is guilty at the very least of involuntary manslaughter," the prosecutor added.
Over his attorney's objections, the judge ruled Lee will be held without bond.
His attorney says the prosecution's contention that the shooting was not an accident surprised him.
"I'm very new on the case," court-appointed attorney Jack Maus said. "I don't know very much at all about it at this point but I have reason to believe it was an accidental shooting, but the investigation is still in progress."
Lee's next hearing is set for April 21.
The victim's mother also appeared for a bond hearing. Tina Toombs was quiet and at times tearful. Her bond was set at $5,000.
Within minutes after the hearing, sheriff's deputies, investigators and the prosecution team converged on the home where the shooting took place, searching for more evidence.
At nearby Lightfoot Elementary School, where George Toombs was a fourth-grader, a special crisis counseling team has been at work. Letters went home to parents Monday informing them of the tragedy. Principal Jewel Williams is not yet allowed to identify the victim by name, but she shared fond memories.
"A beautiful child, very pleasant, friends, and he really enjoyed just being around," Williams said. "He always had something positive to say."
One of the school social workers helping children cope with the loss said some were hit hard.
"There's been some sad feelings today, some shock," Amy Reed said. "There's definitely been some anger, so there's kind of a wide range of emotions going on today, but we've been able to handle those."
Counseling also has been offered at Unionville Elementary, where the victim attended kindergarten through second grade.