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Police: Man said he slept with gun, woke to find girl dead

The Associated Press
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PITTSBURGH – Authorities say a Pittsburgh man charged in the death of a 3-year-old girl told investigators that that he was sleeping next to the child with a loaded shotgun under his pillow and awoke to a loud bang and found her dead with a neck wound.

Marlin Pritchard, 51, was charged Sunday with criminal homicide, child endangerment and weapons offenses in the death early Sunday of the girl identified by the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office as 3-year-old Chassity Clancy.

Pritchard told investigators he was sleeping next to the girl and another child in the home in the Belthoover neighborhood and had a pistol-grip shotgun under his pillow pointed in the direction of the children, authorities said in an affidavit of probable cause.

“Pritchard stated that he ‘heard the bang’ and saw that (one child) jumped up off the bed and run,” authorities said in the affidavit, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

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The 3-year-old girl, however, didn’t move, and Pritchard said he saw blood and a wound in the right side of the neck. She was pronounced dead at 1:34 a.m. Sunday at the home, the medical examiner’s office said.

Pritchard told investigators he slept with the gun because of threats from other people, authorities said. He said a couple for whom he had done contracting work had come to the house Saturday to complain and threaten him, authorities said. He also cited an ongoing dispute for a year with another person, they said.

Pritchard’s relationship to the three children and two adults in the home wasn’t specified, the paper said.

Court documents don’t list a defense attorney; one listed number for Pritchard had been disconnected and another was busy during repeated calls Sunday.