CLAYTON — A Ferguson man was sentenced Friday to five years probation that includes 120 days in jail for leaving a gun accessible to his 3-year-old son who fatally shot himself with it in 2019.
Circuit Judge Joseph Dueker sentenced Rodney March II, 31, to a suspended five-year prison term with 120 days “shock time” in the St. Louis County jail. March pleaded guilty in September to a reduced felony count of child endangerment.
Conditions include six months of house arrest after his release from jail and maintaining full-time employment or school. March was originally charged with a class A version of child endangerment, which has a range of 10 years to life in prison.
March’s lawyer declined comment Friday.
The case was handled by a St. Charles County prosecutor because of a conflict in the St. Louis County prosecutor’s office.
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Police said March’s son, Rodney March III, on Sept. 12, 2019, found his father’s .40-caliber Glock in a bedroom at his family’s apartment in the 9500 block of Jacobi Avenue and shot himself in the head. Authorities said the boy found the gun atop a dresser.
Prosecutors recommended a five-year term for March; March’s lawyer asked for probation without jail time.
Several of March’s relatives and friends wrote letters to the judge expressing their support for March and requesting leniency.
Lisa Jones, an aunt, wrote in a letter that March is a “strong black man” who “beat the odds that so many young black men face growing up in St. Louis.” She said March finished high school and attended Harris-Stowe State University.
“Rodney was devastated when he lost his namesake to an accidental shooting and he is still dealing with the fact that his son is no longer her (sic) to celebrate birthdays, holidays and family time,” she wrote.
She continued, “He has accepted the fact that his son is no longer here and will have to live the rest of his life dealing with his death.”
She also said March and his wife have a daughter as well, saying “Rodney still needs to be present in his daughter’s life so he and his wife can heal together.”