71°F
weather icon Clear

‘My baby didn’t deserve this’: Man gets prison for shooting into apartment, paralyzing 5-year-old

It’s been four months since 5-year-old Draya Harris was struck by a stray bullet while inside her Las Vegas apartment, and her family is still reeling from what prosecutors described as a “senseless act.”

“This has been tough, to hear the doctors say she might never walk again — when she used to run,” Draya’s mother, Porschia Ransey, told a judge during a sentencing hearing on Monday.

Arreion Willoughby, 31, pleaded guilty in February to a felony count of willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons resulting in substantial bodily harm, and ownership of a gun by a prohibited person. He admitted to firing a bullet that went into his neighbor’s apartment, striking Draya and leaving her partially paralyzed.

Willoughby’s defense attorney, Kendall Stone, argued that he picked up the gun while doing laundry and did not intend to shoot.

Although Stone asked for the judge to sentence him to probation, District Judge Jennifer Schwartz ordered Willoughby to spend four years, four months to 11 years in prison.

“I have no doubt that this was not an intentional act,” Schwartz told the defendant. “I don’t think that you sought out to do this or cause any sort of harm. But that doesn’t mean that you get probation.”

Willoughby responded: “I understand.”

The judge said Willoughby had credit for 127 days he has spent in custody. She also ordered him to pay $2,500 in restitution.

Police have said that when Draya was shot on Nov. 20, the bullet entered her shoulder and severed her spinal cord. She remains hospitalized in Utah and is unable to walk or move her legs and one of her arms, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Dina Rinetti.

The prosecutor said it was unclear if Draya’s condition would improve.

“This is just an absolutely senseless act,” Rinetti told the judge on Monday. “An individual who should have never had that gun, who should have never loaded that firearm and who should have never pointed that weapon at that wall, and who should have never fired that gun.”

Court records show that Willoughby had multiple prior felony convictions. In 2015, he pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to child abuse, neglect or endangerment, and was placed on probation.

He was placed on probation again in 2022 after pleading guilty to attempted ownership or possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, court records show.

Willoughby gave a statement to the judge on Monday and apologized to Draya’s family.

“I never intended for that to happen,” he said.” I did not know that firearm was loaded.”

Draya’s mother cried as she addressed the judge through a video call. She said she was disappointed by Willoughby’s statement, and that the aftermath of the shooting has been hard on her, her husband and their three other young children, who have all had to move to Utah while Draya remains hospitalized.

“It’s very traumatizing,” Ransey said. “My baby didn’t deserve this.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST