(WBIR, Knoxville) The mother charged with reckless homicide in connection with the shooting death of her six-month-old baby on Wednesday also pleaded guilty to vandalism in 2010 after a fire was set in her rental home while her three children were inside.
According to documents, Angela Major was originally charged with aggravated arson, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of vandalism and was placed on probation.
According to the responding officer's report, Major originally said she believed that a fire that started in the bedroom of her rental home had been set by racist neighbors. Major is white and at the time, according to the report, lived in a predominantly black neighborhood.
However, according to the documents, she ultimately recanted her story. She told officers she lied to protect herself and her then-boyfriend.
According to an affidavit, Major and her boyfriend eventually admitted to using an accelerant to light the fire, although the original incident report states the man only admitted to lighting several candles near bottles of nail polish remover, but denied intentionally setting the fire.
The incident report states Major then went across the street to call 911. When investigators arrived, they found a home strewn with old food, clothes, and cat feces.
Her four-month-old baby, as well as her two-year-old and three-year-old children were at home at the time of the incident, according to documents.
Major no longer has custody of those three children according to a law enforcement source who has had contact with her in the past.
DCS would not say whether they investigated the family after the fire in 2009. A spokesman did confirm that they are investigating Wednesday's shooting, but said the department had not had previously been involved in the life of the child.
Major and the child's father, 40-year-old Ken Mason, who was not the man connected to the 2009 arson investigation, are both charged with reckless homicide and being held on a $1 million bond.
According to documents a witness in the house at the time of the shooting overheard the child's parents fighting over a handgun while the baby girl sat at their feet.
The witness says she then heard a struggle. The gun went off, striking the father in the hand and hitting the baby girl in the head.
It happened around 1:30 Wednesday on Alcoa Highway in South Knoxville. Officers are not yet saying how many rounds were fired. The handgun was recovered at the scene.
Brandy McLemore has known Major for several years, and even helped babysit her other children. Wednesday evening, she said news of the shooting has left her numb.
"I don't know what happened. I pray to any god that will listen that is an accident," she said.
At the time of her interview with 10News, McLemore had not yet learned the child didn't survive. At that time, she described her emotions toward Major as angry, confused and saddened.
"I would like to do my best to give her the benefit of the doubt, and for her to tell me the truth of what happened. And I know she's probably in so much pain right now," McLemore said.
According to the Knox County Sheriff's Office both parents have criminal histories.
In 2010 Major also went to jail after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary, documents show.
As of Wednesday, Mason had an outstanding Knox County warrant for failure to obey a court order. He also had two failures to appear on juvenile petitions.