Woman pleads not guilty to shooting friend at birthday party

WARREN — Two cousins of a 19-year-old Warren woman arraigned today on a charge accusing her of accidentally shooting and killing an 18-year-old friend say the situation is hard for everyone involved.

“I feel bad for both of them,” Danielle Johnson, cousin of Lakeisha Bell, said of Bell and McKayla Hopkins.

Hopkins, of Warren and Howland, was killed when Bell fired a gunshot that hit Hopkins in the torso during Bell’s birthday party Friday evening in Perkins Park, police said.

Bell pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, carrying a concealed weapon and being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm.

Judge Thomas Gysegem of Warren Municipal Court set bond at $100,000 and ordered that she have no firearms if she’s able to get out on bond.

Bell and her attorney, Mark Hanni, chose to proceed directly to a Trumbull County grand jury in the case, waiving the right to have any more hearings in municipal court.

“It’s tragic. It’s a sad loss for both families,” said Johnathan Penn, another Bell cousin.

“That was her best friend,” Penn said of Hopkins. “I barely knew the girl, but I cried for her.”

If Bell is convicted of the crimes, she could get more than 15 years in prison.

For the complete story, read Friday's Vindicator and Vindy.com

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