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Texas boy, 7, dies after being shot in mistaken trespass

Sunday, May 10, 2009

(Photo)
A sign is seen on the front yard at the home of Sheila Muhs and Gayle Muhs on Friday May 8, 2009, in Liberty County, Texas. The married couple remained jailed Friday on aggravated assault charges alleging they blasted four people with shotguns _ including a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl _ who they mistakenly thought were trespassing on their property.
(AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Mayra Beltran)
HOUSTON -- A 7-year-old boy who was allegedly shot in the head by a couple who thought he and three other people were trespassing on their property died Saturday, authorities said.

Donald Coffey Jr. died Saturday morning at a Houston hospital, less than two days after the boy was struck in the head by shotgun pellets, Liberty County Sheriff's Cpl. Hugh Bishop said.

Sheila Muhs and her husband, Gayle Muhs, both 45, were charged with second-degree felony counts of aggravated assault in the shootings Thursday. They were being held at Liberty County Jail with bail set at $25,000 each and had not yet retained an attorney, Bishop said.

Bishop said the district attorney could upgrade the charges to murder Monday, but investigators were "still trying to get the circumstances behind the incident."

The boy, his 5-year-old sister, their father and a family friend were off-roading near a residential area about 40 miles northeast of Houston when they were shot after stopping so the children could go to the bathroom.

(Photo)
These May 7, 2009 booking photos released by the Liberty County, Texas, Sheriff's Office show Gayle and Sheila Muhs who have been charged with shooting four people, including a 7-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl, who they mistakenly thought were trespassing on their property Thursday night. The victims were off-roading near Dayton, Texas, when the couple opened fire, according to officials.
(AP Photo/Liberty County Sheriff's Office)
Authorities said the couple fired after they mistakenly thought the group was trespassing on their property.

Bishop said the area includes a dirt road, trees and overgrown brush and that it wasn't uncommon for people to go off-roading there. The Houston Chronicle reported that a sign in front of the suspects' home reads: "Trespassers will be shot. Survivers will be reshot!! Smile I will."

Liberty County chief deputy Ken DeFoor said Sheila Muhs fired a 12-gauge shotgun once, then handed it to her husband, who also fired once.

DeFoor said Sheila Muhs then called 911 and told the dispatcher: "They're out here tearing up the levee, so I shot them."

DeFoor said the levee belonged to the subdivision and was not private property.

Bishop said there was no indication the unarmed victims did anything threatening toward the Muhses.

Donald Coffey Sr. suffered a pellet wound in his right shoulder and his daughter, Destiny, suffered a wound to the elbow. The family friend, 30-year-old Patrick Cammack, was in serious condition Saturday with a head wound, Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center spokeswoman Alex Rodriguez said.


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