Shooting of child ends in probation sentence

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Pictured: Zachary Pherigo Pictured: Zachary Pherigo

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - A man who shot a 2-year-old to death will serve time on probation, along with other punishments. 

Zachary Pherigo is ordered to serve a total of 48 months of probation after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, aggravated discharge of a firearm and obstruction of justice. 

The child, Justin Lee Murphy Jr., died in a hospital after he was shot in the torso. It happened on Oct. 14 at an East Wellington Way address in Decatur. 

Pherigo is required to go through DNA testing, pay a statutory fee of $250 and complete a mental health evaluation. He is also not permitted to drink alcohol and will be required to work or take classes. 

The sentence included 6 months of time in the Macon County Correctional Center, but Pherigo was credited for spending that same amount of time already in custody.

Pherigo was playing "cops and robbers" with the child, he told detectives, at the time of the shooting. He took Murphy to the ground, pointed the gun at his right side and said "don't move". The teen said he found the handgun on Oct. 13 behind a North Woodford Street strip mall and decided to take it home. 

Police say he admitted to pulling the trigger, but didn't know the gun was loaded at the time. 

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