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19-year-old gets probation in mother’s death

When 19-year-old Mitchell Lavender picked up a black handgun nine days before Christmas, he wanted to kill himself.

Lavender had recently moved with his parents to Las Vegas from Michigan.

In that short period of time, he had broken up “with the only girl he loved from Michigan,” and learned his father suffered from liver cancer.

Lavender said he couldn’t take it.

But before he pulled the trigger, he changed his mind. And as he went back into his North Las Vegas home, his mother, Michele Lavender, found him.

Mitchell Lavender would later tell police that his mother had asked him to hand over the gun and, as he did, it went off.

His 52-year-old mother was struck in the chest. She was later pronounced dead at University Medical Center.

On Tuesday, with his father, brother and sister in attendance, Mitchell Lavender was sentenced to five years’ probation, two months after he pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter.

“I cannot think of anything more horrible than what has happened to these folks,” said District Judge James Bixler during the sentencing hearing.

According to court documents, Mitchell Lavender’s anguish over the death of his mother was palpable as soon as it happened.

Police officers who arrived at the scene, said the 19-year-old was hysterical and slamming his fists into the concrete driveway and nearby grass.

He was later heard saying, “I shot her. I shot her. I can’t believe I shot her. I just wanted to kill myself,” according to court documents.

Mitchell Lavender told investigators it was an accident.

Foremost of the conditions of probation, Bixler said Mitchell Lavender must attend mandatory counseling, so he can receive help in dealing with what happened. Other conditions included that he cannot be around firearms, cannot be in possession of alcohol or drugs, and must attend either school or work, and abide by any curfew imposed by his probation officer.

Family friends have said Michele Lavender was a former police dispatcher from Detroit who had moved to Las Vegas with her husband and son in 2009 to be closer to Mitchell Lavender’s two siblings.

Along with her husband’s illness, she was diagnosed with multiple brain aneurysms, family friends have said.

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