Girl, 4, Killed; Neighbor Held in Random Shooting

Times Staff Writer

A 4-year-old girl was killed Saturday when a shotgun was fired into a large doghouse in Lancaster where she was playing, sheriff's deputies said.

Marc Gillespie, 30, of Lancaster was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and was being held in lieu of $22,000 bail. Deputy Chris Robbins said that Gillespie, who has a history of randomly firing guns after he drinks, had been drinking before the shooting.

Starlan Blain of Quartz Hill was inside the doghouse and her playmate, Jonathan Larson, about age 2, was behind the structure when the shot was fired about 2 p.m., sheriff's deputies said. The boy was not injured.

Starlan's stepfather, Duane Carter, ran from a nearby driveway where he was visiting with Jonathan's father and pulled the girl from the doghouse.

The girl did not say anything until she saw her stepfather, her mother said. "All she could say was, 'Daddy' and she said it three times," Deborah Carter said. "The way she said it was like a question mark; like what happened? Explain."

The Carters said Gillespie called the paramedics and tried to give the child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. She was taken to the Antelope Valley Hospital Medical Center, where she died about four hours later, during surgery.

She had been struck in the abdomen and legs and suffered internal injuries, said Frankie Richards, public relations director of the medical center.

Homicide Investigator Russell Uloth said there were conflicting stories about how many shots were fired and about how far Gillespie was from the doghouse when the 12-gauge shotgun was fired.

Deborah Carter said, "I feel it would never have happened if he wasn't in the state he was in, because no one in his right mind would shoot a gun with children in the yard."

She and her husband, who was in the process of adopting Starlan, are expecting a son to be born any day and said they are worried about how they will pay for Starlan's funeral expenses.

Deborah Carter described her daughter as outgoing and independent. "She's the type of child who, if she would walk in a room where everyone was unhappy, would put smiles on their faces quickly."

She said she, her husband, who works as a pressman, and daughter had driven to the mountains surrounding Quartz Hill nearly every weekend but were in town last weekend because they could not afford gasoline.

"It was like a weekend ritual that we did--take her up in the mountains--because she loved the mountains. . . . That's the saddest part, because if we would have had the money, she would have never been there playing."

A memorial fund has been established to help offset the Carters' expenses.

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