A Panorama City woman pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that she allowed her 9-year-old daughter access to a gun, which the girl took to school and fired through a classmate's jacket.
Gloriette Littlejohn, 37, is the first person in the city of Los Angeles to be prosecuted under the state's 1991 Children's Firearm Accident Prevention Act. The law makes it illegal for a parent to leave a firearm readily accessible to children, who then fire, brandish or exhibit the gun.
Littlejohn, who is free without bail, was ordered to return July 20 to Van Nuys Municipal Court to face trial on the misdemeanor count, as well as a second misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property. The gun was reported stolen in February from a Venice home.
If convicted, she faces a maximum charge of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each count.
Deputy Public Defender Michael Sklar said he represented Littlejohn only for the arraignment and that another attorney with the Public Defender's office would be assigned to the case.
Littlejohn declined to comment.
According to prosecutors, on May 4 the girl found a loaded .40-caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol in a drawer in her mother's bedroom. She took the gun and removed the magazine with 10 bullets from the gun, but apparently did not realize that a bullet remained in the chamber.
She told authorities that she put the gun in her backpack and went to school to protect herself from gang members who had been threatening her as she walked to and from school.
At school, the girl pulled the trigger in front of a 7-year-old classmate and the bullet passed through the fabric of the boy's jacket sleeve, although no one was injured. The girl dropped the gun and ran crying from the scene.
Deputy City Atty. Kenneth Tso said he was not certain why this case among the many where children have brought guns to school was selected for prosecution, although he said there was concern that the girl knew enough about the gun to be able to unload it.
In 1993, the Los Angeles Unified School District adopted a "zero-tolerance" policy toward children bring weapons onto a campus. Since then, 409 students have been expelled for violating the rule, according to district officials, although there have been some exceptions.
The school board is scheduled to vote Monday decide whether the girl, a fourth-grader at Plummer School, will be expelled.