PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A woman from West Mifflin will stand trial in connection with the death of her six-year-old son, who was fatally shot by his 10-year-old brother.
Family members say Kayleigh Potter routinely left her two sons home alone while she went to work at the Allegheny County Public Defender’s office, her second job at a local restaurant, or to the bar.
The boys’ great aunt tried to help, and her family cared for the boys when they could.
“They always wanted to come over. They always wanted to spend the night,” says Nina Marone. “When we would take them home, my husband would take them to the grocery store with us, let them pick out whatever they wanted to take home to eat because they always said there was no food at their house… We tried to watch out for the boys the best that we could.”
Marone says Potter was vindictive and would threaten to keep the boys from visiting if they reported her to Children and Youth Services.
Potter’s former boyfriends testified against her in court at her preliminary hearing and painted a similar picture.
“You have scorned boyfriends coming in, telling everything about their ex-girlfriend… everything they are upset about,” says Potter’s defense attorney, Frank Walker. “Painting her like a bad mother, a bad person.”
Walker added, “She understands what she’s up against. She understands that the public has already vilified her.”
Police say that in early August, Potter left her sons home alone. The boys found a gun in her purse, a 9mm Ruger. It was loaded and unlocked. Somehow, it went off. It took just one bullet to kill 6-year-old Julian Hoffman.
“There’s a six-year-old dead for no reason,” says the boys’ former babysitter, Yvonne Savage. “He was a good little boy.”
Police also say Potter lied on the application she filled out to buy that gun. They also say she used drugs and smoked marijuana every day.
“This terrible accident is not the fault of a 10-year-old boy who was left home with a six-year-old boy,” says Marone. “This terrible accident is the fault of a negligent mother… I just want to make sure that there’s justice for Julian.”
“It’s a tragedy no matter what,” says Walker. “No one wins in this situation, [There are] no winners or losers. Someone lost a son, and they shouldn’t ever have to bury their own son.”
But Marone says even after Potter’s son died, she continued to fail him as a mother.
“She left Julian in the morgue for almost two weeks before she finally let the funeral home pick him up,” says Marone. “Then, she also left him at the funeral home for at least another four weeks.”
Potter will now stand trial on charges of endangering the welfare of children, giving a false statement while purchasing a gun, and possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
“It’s a tragedy,” says Marone. “Now I have one nephew that’s deceased, and one nephew who is struggling, who’s never going to have a normal life.”
Potter’s 10-year-old son is being cared for by another person who has been granted permanent guardianship. Marone did not specify if that person is a family member, or a family friend.