Attorney Jerry Merrill Secures Not Guilty Verdict for Kansas Teen Charged with Murder
Attorney Jerry Merrill recently secured a not guilty verdict for a 14-year-old boy who was charged with second degree murder in Johnson County. As reported in the Kansas City Star and The New York Times, the jury found that there was not sufficient evidence to prove that the boy knew the gun was loaded when he pulled the trigger after 3 hours of deliberations.
Teen Charged with Murder After Accidentally Shooting His Friend
The case arose out of an accidental shooting that occurred when the juvenile and three other teens were playing with a handgun near one of their homes. One of the teens had stolen the gun from a car in a nearby neighborhood, and removed the magazine from the gun. The boys played with the gun for approximately 20 to 30 minutes, pointing it at one another and pulling the trigger.
The facts also showed that, at one point, the juvenile handed the gun to the victim, and the victim placed the magazine back in the gun. The victim then handed the gun back to the juvenile. Unaware that the gun was loaded, the juvenile “racked the slide” of the gun, pointed it and pulled the trigger. According to the juvenile’s testimony, he did not intend to directly aim the gun at the victim, but because he believed the gun was unloaded he did not take care to make certain that the gun was not aimed at anyone.
Jury Acquits Based on Lack of Evidence of Recklessness
While there was no question that the juvenile had accidentally killed his friend, the question was whether he did so with the mental state required to establish guilt for murder. At trial, the prosecution argued that the juvenile’s actions were reckless and showed extreme indifference to the value of human life – the mental state required to prove murder in Kansas. Attorney Jerry Merrill argued that the juvenile had not been reckless based on the fact that he was unaware that the gun had been reloaded.
The jury found the evidence insufficient to establish that the juvenile had acted recklessly beyond a reasonable doubt. The jurors concluded that it could not be proven that the juvenile knew the gun had been reloaded; and, therefore, based on the fact that the boys had been pulling the trigger for 20 to 30 minutes, the juvenile did not exhibit extreme indifference to the value of human life when he accidentally shot his friend.
This was a tragic case for everyone involved, but not more so for anyone than the victim and his family. For information about gun safety, you can visit:
- Learn About Firearms Safety and Security – ATF.gov
- Firearms Safety – NSSF.org
- Gun Safety – KidsHealth.org
Contact Overland Park, KS Criminal Defense Lawyer Jerry Merrill
With offices in Overland Park, criminal defense lawyer Jerry Merrill represents clients throughout Kansas. If you or your child is facing charges, you can call 913-228-3843 or contact the Merrill Law Firm online for a free case evaluation.