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Originally published January 24, 2013 at 1:45 PM | Page modified January 24, 2013 at 4:19 PM

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Pa. drug dealer sentenced for son's accidental gun death

A Philadelphia drug dealer whose young son fatally shot himself with a gun that had been hidden in a sofa has been sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison.

The Associated Press

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PHILADELPHIA —

A Philadelphia drug dealer whose young son fatally shot himself with a gun that had been hidden in a sofa has been sentenced to nine to 18 years in prison.

Twenty-six-year-old Javier Merle apologized to his family and in-laws at his sentencing on Thursday.

Prosecutors say Merle had stashed heroin and a loaded 9mm pistol in the couch at his Kensington home. Four-year-old Javier Merle Jr. found the gun in July 2011 after his father went outside during a dispute with neighbors.

Merle pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and drug charges in August.

Merle's attorney says the boy's death has torn the family apart. But the judge reprimanded relatives for tolerating Merle's drug-dealing.

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