Toddler May Not Have Been Holding Gun When Shot

By Beacon Staff

Investigators said Wednesday they believe a 19-month-old girl who was fatally shot last week wasn’t holding the hand gun when she was killed — contradicting the story of a man who was with her when the gun fired.

“We do not have reason to believe the child had the weapon in her hands at the time of her death,” Flathead County Detective Cmdr. Jeanne Landis said, referring to Korbyn Eva May Williams.

According to court documents, 23-year-old Dwayne Smail told investigators he placed the 9 mm pistol — which had no safety — on an exposed portion of his bed’s box spring before he went to sleep March 5. He awoke to Korbyn tapping him on the shoulder and holding the gun. When Smail tried to grab it from her, it went off, according to the documents. The girl died at the scene from a gunshot wound to the head.

Smail was charged Friday with negligent homicide. His arraignment is scheduled for March 27.

Detectives are investigating where Smail and Korbyn were in relation to each other when the gun went off. They also are analyzing DNA and gunshot residue and trying to determine how much pressure on the trigger is required to fire the weapon. Additional information on how the gun discharged was not available Wednesday.

“I’m fearful that the release of any further information at this point could compromise the investigation,” Landis said.

The toddler had been found with the pistol a few days before the shooting, and her mother, Aimee Marie Williams, told police she had asked Smail several times to keep the handgun out of Korbyn’s reach, according to court documents. Smail was in a relationship with the toddler’s mother and was caring for the child in an Evergreen apartment the three shared while she was at work, according to the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office. No one else was in the apartment at the time of the shooting.

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