Lafayette Hodges

Man Shot, Killed College Girlfriend While Playing With Gun: Prosecutors

Prosecutors said Lafayette Hodges, 18, fatally shot his girlfriend of nine months Friday evening as he "played" with a gun he thought was unloaded in a bedroom of his home. He appeared in court Monday visibly shaken and crying.

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An 18-year-old Chicago man accused of fatally shooting his girlfriend while she visited from college allegedly did so while engaging in a version of Russian roulette with what he believed was an unloaded gun, prosecutors said.

Lafayette Hodges was held on $50,000 bond Monday on a felony count of involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 19-year-old Lyniah Bell, a student at Michigan State University who had returned to Chicago on winter break. Hodges appeared in court Monday visibly shaken and crying, wearing what looked to be a medical paper robe and shorts.

Prosecutors said Hodges fatally shot Bell Friday evening as he "played" with a gun he thought was unloaded in a bedroom of his home.

Hodges pointed the gun at the person who gave him the revolver, prosecutors said, pulled the trigger and nothing happened. He then put the gun to his own head, pulled the trigger and nothing happened, prosecutors said. When the gun was pointed at Bell, the gun went off.

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Bell suffered a gunshot wound to the head during the incident, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hodges fled the scene after the shooting. He later called a witness and then his mother saying it was an accident, prosecutors said. He stated the person who handed him the gun brought the revolver to his house and "emptied the bullets onto the bed," according to prosecutors. That person, who has not been identified, denied giving him the gun.

When he pointed the gun at Bell, "she said that he loved her too much to hurt her," according to the proffer. Hodges and Bell had been dating for the past nine months, prosecutors said.

Police said that Hodges turned himself into police on Saturday morning at approximately 4 a.m. after the shooting.

Just before 10 p.m. Friday, a witness heard a gunshot at a residence in the 8100 block of South Maryland Avenue and found Bell in the bedroom of an apartment, according to Chicago police.

Bell was a freshman honors student at Michigan State University, and was home from school on winter break, according to her family. She was on a full scholarship and hoped to one day be a journalist and open her own business.

"It is disgraceful. I am sick," said Bell's cousin-in-law, Joseph Wright. "We just hope justice will be served for this young lady."

Her family expressed anger and disappointment after Hodges only received a $50,000 bond. And they said they don't believe his story.

"There's a lot of unanswered questions," Wright said. "This guy had a long time to make up these things for the court to sit back and do a $50,000 bond. It is disgraceful."

Bell was staying at Hodges' home, prosecutors said.

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