Pa. dad sentenced for son's accidental gun death

PHILADELPHIA - A Philadelphia drug dealer whose young son fatally shot himself with a gun that had been hidden in a sofa has been sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison.

Twenty-six-year-old Javier Merle apologized to his family and in-laws at his sentencing on Thursday.

Prosecutors say Merle had stashed heroin and a loaded 9mm pistol in the couch at his Kensington home. Four-year-old Javier Merle Jr. found the gun in July 2011 after his father went outside during a dispute with neighbors.  The boy was found in the back yard, shot in the face.

The gun had an obliterated serial number, according to prosecutors.

Merle pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and drug charges in August.

Merle's attorney says the boy's death has torn the family apart. But the judge reprimanded relatives for tolerating Merle's drug-dealing. 

Prosecutors also said the family did not cooperate with police during the initial investigation and gave the gun to a neighbor to hide before police were called.

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