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Mom of fatally shot boy upset about court punishments (UPDATE)

ELKHORN, Wis. (AP) — The mother of a fatally shot 11-year-old boy from the town of Sharon says punishments handed down in the case lessen the value of his life.

Eric Gutierrez died in July after he was shot in the head by a 14-year-old friend. Authorities say the two were playing with guns, and that the 14-year-old’s father kept about 20 guns unlocked in the family’s home.

The 14-year-old was referred to juvenile authorities in August, and was sentenced to a year of supervision Tuesday on a charge of homicide by negligent handling of a dangerous weapon.

The father pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a child and was sentenced to a year of probation as well counseling and restitution.

Gutierrez’s mother, Rebecca Orick, told The Janesville Gazette after a Tuesday court hearing that she feels like the justice system has “completely failed” her and her family. She said the year sentences for the teen and his father are like saying her son’s life “is worth a year.”

“I think it’s absolutely disgusting the laws in this state which have prevented us from receiving more justice for Eric,” she said.

Orick said she feels the father is more responsible for her son’s death. The father told police that his 14-year-old son had access to the guns in the home, according to court documents.

The teen’s sentence won’t help him cope with what’s happened, Orick said, and get the right treatment. She feels like the system is “setting this kid up for failure,” she said.

After taking time for herself, Orick said she plans to research similar deaths and then approach a state lawmaker. She’s upset about laws that let children have access to guns when they have parents’ permission.

“Court is done, but this is not done for me. … There will be justice, and we’ll do it for Eric,” Orick said.

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