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Press Release

Mother Pleads Guilty To Illegal Possession Of A Gun In Case Related To The Accidental Discharge Death Of Her Two-Year-Old Child

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that Emma Huver, 26, of Lansing, pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. As part of her plea, Huver admitted that she had a purple 9-milimeter Smith & Wesson semiautomatic pistol in her car on October 24, 2023.  She had previously been convicted of a felony drug offense in 2020.  Sentencing is scheduled for September 16, 2024.   

          “Today’s guilty plea is one step forward in our effort to achieve a measure of justice for this tragic loss of life,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “This case magnifies one of the grimmest statistics we live with in America today: that gun violence is now the #1 cause of death for our youngest, ages 0-19. We cannot accept this ‘new normal,’ but must do everything we can to prevent these deaths.”

          Two other Lansing residents are also charged in the indictment. Avis Coward, 44, and Gina Schieberl, 27, are charged with conspiracy to tamper with evidence and tampering with evidence.  Coward is also charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

          As alleged, on October 24, 2023, Coward got out of a car at a Lansing gas station and went inside, leaving a two-year-old child and the child’s mother, Huver, in the car. Surveillance video showed that a minute later a bullet hole appeared in the car window. Huver got out of the car holding her child, who had blood on his face from a gunshot wound. As she did so, Coward’s gun fell out of the car. Huver handed the child to Coward, who then passed the child to a third person who took the victim into the gas station and attempted to control the bleeding until medical personnel arrived. Coward returned to the car, picked up the gun off the ground, and put it back in the car. The surveillance video also showed Coward use his hand to break out the front passenger window, which had the bullet hole. Coward then drove away. The child later died from his injuries.

Photo from surveillance video showing Avis Coward exiting vehicle. A gun is pictured on the ground next to Coward.

          The tampering charges concern attempts by defendants Coward and Schieberl to hide or destroy evidence in this case, including the car, which was later found burned-out and abandoned in a field in Lansing, and a .45 caliber Springfield Armory semiautomatic pistol, the barrel of which was found disassembled and hidden in the wall of a house in Lansing.

Image of the burned-out vehicle.

          “This is yet another great example of how partnerships with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan, and all who were involved, strive to bring justice and closure to those effected by senseless violence,” said Lansing Police Chief Ellery Sosebee

          “We are grateful to have U.S. Attorney Mark Totten and his office working with local police and our office to address gun offenses in our community,” said Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane. “This death is a preventable tragedy as we all too often see children having access to weapons or living in an environment where weapons aren’t stored or kept safely. Through legislative changes and collaborations, our office is dedicated to continuing to work together to hold individuals accountable and increase safety in our community.”

          Gun violence is an acute problem across the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. firearm homicide rate in 2021 was the highest documented since 1993. While the numbers have slightly declined since 2021, they remain high.

          Resources and information on the safe storage of firearms can be found by reviewing the U.S. Department of Justice Safe Storage of Firearms guide, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fact sheet, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives pamphlet. Anyone who possesses a gun must follow all local, state, and federal laws.

          This case was investigated by the Lansing Police Department, Michigan State Police, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.

          The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Updated April 30, 2024

Topics
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses