Court awaits evaluation for teen in IM shooting

IRON MOUNTAIN — A 15-year-old male who pleaded no contest to charges stemming from the unintentional shooting of a teenage girl with a shotgun Feb. 21 will be confined to his home as he awaits an independent evaluation of his mental health.

The teen, who is not being named because he is a juvenile, appeared Friday before Judge Thomas Slagle for what was to be a sentencing hearing in Dickinson County Probate Court.

Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Richards asked the teen receive a blended sentence, which would have consisted of extended probation reviewed annually. The court would have had the ability to revoke probation and try the teen as an adult should he violated terms of the sentence.

The juvenile, Richards argued, posed a more significant threat than he appeared in his psychological report, which she said failed to consider the shooting was premeditated.

The father of the reported target said his son was baited by the juvenile into a vulnerable position in the home where the incident occurred.

“That sounds like hunting to me,” the man said, adding had his son not attempted to overpower the other teen he might not be alive today.

While the teen missed his intended target, “his plan was otherwise carried out,” Richards said.

The mother of the teen girl struck by the shotgun blast said the wound was 4 1/2 inches deep and 3 inches wide. Nearly four months after the incident, the girl still is vomiting pellets, the mother said.

Richards said the juvenile lied during his evaluation by saying the shotgun used was still loaded from a previous depressive episode in which he contemplated suicide. But a witness stated they saw the juvenile load the shotgun before the shooting, Richards said.

The juvenile’s lawyer, John Bergman, said though his client was “foolish,” he was the one who called authorities after the shooting.

“(He) can be rehabilitated,” Bergman said, adding “We need to get (him) on the right path.”

While Slagle acknowledged the incident appeared premeditated, the judge said it was unclear whether the juvenile intended to actually pull the trigger.

Slagle did not impose the blended sentence and instead decided the teenager would be sentenced as a juvenile.

But recognizing the possibility the psychological report was flawed, the judge allowed Richards the opportunity to seek an independent evaluation before sentencing.

Weighing the severity of the crime with his lack of a delinquent record, Slagle released the teen to his parents’ custody. The teen will be confined to his home and must wear a GPS tether.

“Don’t give me a reason to reconsider,” Slagle told the teen.

The juvenile initially was charged with one count each of weapons, firearm, discharge in or at a building causing injury, a felony with up to 15 years in prison; assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation, a felony with up to 10 years in prison; and weapons, felony firearm, a two-year felony.

For his no-contest plea, the assault charge was reduced to assault with a dangerous weapon, a four-year felony, and the felony firearm count was dismissed.

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