MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Chloey Neely, the 8-year-old girl who was shot in the head by her great-uncle, Michael Nichols, while he was handling a pistol in her home, is back in school, he said.

Nichols said he was happy for Neely, and that he didn’t know any more about her status.

Nichols appeared Thursday in Monongalia County Magistrate Court for a plea hearing, which was continued to a later date.

Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Erik Brown said he was given the sheriff’s file on the case Thursday and was not yet ready to make a plea offer. He said the charge was significant and had a serious outcome.

Nichols is charged with a misdemeanor, person prohibited from possessing firearms. Nichols did not appear with an attorney Thursday, and Brown said he should hire one or request discovery from the state.

Magistrate Sandy Holepit also advised Nichols to hire an attorney. He said he would.

Chloey Neely

“It was not intentional. It was just a freak accident,” Nichols told The Dominion Post in July, several days after the July 20 incident.

Nichols said he was at the Neely’s home to give his niece, Chloey’s mother, a handgun for protection because of safety concerns she had.

“I was giving it to her,” he said. “I instructed the officers to test the gun to make sure, to check for defects because it just went off. And then destroy it.”

The bullet reportedly went through a wall and struck Chloey behind the right ear.

Twitter @WillDean_DP