OLATHE, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas teenager who said he did not know that a gun was loaded when he fatally shot a 14-year-old friend was acquitted of second-degree murder.
The jury returned the verdict on Wednesday in the case against the Roeland Park teenager, who was 13 in August when he shot Zavier Mendoza in a house near Olathe, the Kansas City Star reported.
The teenager, who is now 14, was with Mendoza and two other teenagers when they said they found a gun when stealing cars. Mendoza put the gun clip in his pocket, said one of the police teenagers.
The teenagers said they then went home, where the 13-year-old pointed the unloaded gun at each of them and pulled the trigger before returning the gun to Mendoza, who put the magazine back in the gun and returned it. Year old who shot Mendoza with it. The defendant informed the police that he had not noticed that the clip had been replaced.
In a final statement, deputy district attorney Don Hymer said on Wednesday that the murder took place on a night of lawlessness. He argued that the teenager’s actions were ruthless and extremely indifferent to the value of human life.
But attorney Jerry Merrill argued that what happened was not a murder because his client didn’t know the gun was loaded.
The star generally doesn’t name juvenile suspects unless their cases go to an adult court.