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It was a tragic accident when Danielle Jones shot and killed her 18-year-old brother, Matthew Jackson Jones of Center Street in Galax, said Grayson County Commonwealth's Attorney Doug Vaught.
Danielle Jones, 22, of Neptune Drive in Galax, was initially charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of her brother on Dec. 14, 2009.
She entered a plea of involuntary manslaughter on May 28 in Grayson County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court. She was sentenced to 10 years in jail, with all but six months suspended.
Instead of going to prison, she will be under the Grayson County Day Reporting Program. Through the rehabilitative program, she will attend substance abuse classes and perform community service each week.
On the night of the shooting, Danielle Jones, her brother and others at a gathering at 202 Kenbrook Drive in Galax had consumed “quite a bit of alcohol” and had been “playing around with a gun,” said Vaught.
It was a new gun that a friend of the Jones siblings had just bought. While playing with the gun, Vaught said Danielle picked up the loaded weapon, pointed it towards her brother and pulled the trigger.
One shot struck Matthew's lower jaw and severed his spine, killing him instantly, said Vaught. They were sitting in close range in the living room, with Danielle on one sofa and Matthew on another, he said.
Danielle and Matthew were the only ones in the living room when it happened, he said. Two other adults and two children were sleeping.
With no working cell phones in the house, Danielle fled the scene to walk to her parents' house to tell them what happened.
A resident of the Kenbrook Drive house, Christa Lathem, who found Matthew dead, drove to the Galax Police Department to report what happened.
Officers responded to the scene shortly before 2 a.m. where they found Matthew's body and the weapon.
Galax Police Officer Kevin Hall located Danielle on West Stuart Drive near the Heart and Vascular Center.
She was taken into custody at 2:35 a.m., according to Galax Police Chief Rick Clark.
“It was just a terrible accident,” said Vaught. “They liked each other and got along well. It was just negligence and having too much to drink.”