MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Memphis father has been sentenced to probation for the shooting death of his 3-year-old son.
Kash Sharp died in 2017 after getting a hold of a gun at his father’s apartment. Prosecutors sought first-degree murder charges against father Cortez Wilkerson -- which could have meant life in prison.
“Devastating, like I said, he was kind of rocking in the backseat crying, crying. He hasn’t stopped crying," said Antonio Fagain, the uncle of 3-year-old Kash Sharpe.
In 2017, Kash got his father’s gun and shot himself dying instantly investigators say. It happened at the New Horizon Apartments.
His father then 26-year-old Cortez Wilkerson was indicted on a first-degree murder charge -- prosecutors alleging Wilkerson accidentally shot his son. The child’s mother stood by Wilkerson posting video in 2017 of Kash and Wilkerson at an amusement park with the caption: “This man was a great father, not a monster.”
Wilkerson faced charges of aggravated child neglect, child endangerment and child abuse. He spent a year in jail before his attorney got his bond reduced and he got out.
His attorney, Blake Ballin, told WMC Action News 5 that under Tennessee law and those charges if a child dies its first-degree murder. Ballin had conversations with prosecutors.
“If you start prosecuting people who make a mistake, leave a dangerous instrument out and it results in the death of a child that’s automatically first-degree murder. You could be talking about a kitchen knife, bleach that you leave on your washing machine," said Ballin.
Ballin said he also brought in an expert who found evidence a 3-year-old could pull the trigger on the gun. Ballin said an expert with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that was not possible but had nothing to back it up.
The mother of 3-year-old Kash is still with Wilkerson supporting him. Prosecutors offered a deal of criminally negligent homicide a felony with 10 years probation. Wilkerson pleaded guilty to that on Monday.
“He wishes he could change places with his son. he was in tears throughout the day," said Ballin recalling the last thing Wilkerson said to him.
Prosecutors say there were no witnesses. And Wilkerson admitted he left the loaded gun where his child could get it.