PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An admitted Philadelphia drug dealer will serve nine to 18 years in prison because his young son fatally shot himself with a gun that had been hidden in a sofa.

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

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Prosecutors say Merle had stashed heroin and a loaded 9mm pistol in the couch at his Kensington home. His 4-year-old son, Javier 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.

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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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