Anthony Patrick Sanders, 27, of Nashville, pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to being a convicted felon in possession of firearms.
Sanders was charged in a criminal complaint June 14 after the June 6 accidental shooting death of 7-year-old Harmony Wakefield. A federal grand jury indicted Sanders on July 12.
“This is another tragic example of the unintended consequences that results when persons prohibited from carrying firearms choose to ignore the law,” said U.S. attorney Don Cochran. “Due to the reckless actions of a convicted felon, an innocent child lost her life. This office and our law enforcement partners will continue to relentlessly pursue those individuals responsible for inflicting violence in our public housing communities and bring the appropriate federal charges and seek harsh prison sentences. There is no parole in the federal system.”
According to court documents, Sanders was released from prison in June 2016 after he was convicted of kidnapping in 2008. In or around February, Sanders began frequenting the J.C. Napier Housing Development in Nashville and started selling heroin in the area. Sanders was known to regularly carry a gun when he was selling heroin in the area, and he frequently stayed at 767 Lewis St.
Sanders stayed at a Lewis Street apartment on the night of June 5. He awoke the following morning and went outside, leaving a loaded pistol within easy access of anyone inside the apartment. Shortly thereafter, a child in the apartment picked up the gun and shot it, hitting Wakefield in the head and killing her.
Sanders then re-entered the apartment and found Wakefield lying on the kitchen floor with a gunshot wound to the head. He took the gun and ran away. Court records indicate three other children, 2, 11 and 14, were in the apartment when the incident happened.
Sanders eventually fled to a community near Columbus, Ohio, where he hid the gun, which was later recovered by U.S. Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. It was also determined Sanders took the gun from an individual in May after a fight in the Cayce Homes public housing development in Nashville.
The plea agreement calls for Sanders to receive a 10-year prison sentence, if U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger accepts it March 2.