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Victim's parents speak out about "selfie murder" sentencing

In 2015, two 16-year-old boys were playing with a gun when one of the boys was shot in the face and eventually died. The shooter was arrested at his home near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and charged with murder.

His case went to trial this past February and after six hours of jury deliberation. He was convicted of third-degree manslaughter and sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison. The victim's parents did not speak publicly about the case while the legal process was ongoing. Now that the trial is over, they are expressing their disappointment with the outcome.

Traditionally, people under the age of 18 are considered juveniles and tried in juvenile court. However, certain circumstances allow them to be tried as an adult. In Pennsylvania, judges may transfer a juvenile's case to criminal court, depending on the nature of the crime, especially if it is a serious offense.

In this case, the shooter was tried as an adult due to the seriousness of the crime. After the victim was shot, the shooter did not call for help or report the incident to authorities. Instead, he took a picture of himself smiling with the victim bleeding to death in the background and posted it on Snapchat.

His mother, about an hour later, found the victim in his bedroom. A forensic pathologist testified that the victim may have survived, if he had gotten medical attention earlier. The shooter bragged about the incident to a friend and shared a link to the picture, a screenshot of which was then turned over to police.

The victim's parents and the prosecution were hoping for a first-degree murder charge, but the jury convicted the shooter of third-degree murder (voluntary manslaughter) because they felt that he did not intend to kill the victim. The victim's father stated that he did not feel as though justice was served. However, the shooter claims that it was a tragic accident and is appealing his conviction.

Source: People crime, "He Shot Our Son Then Took a Selfie: Parents of Teen Left to Die by His Friend Speak Out," Adam Carlson, June 28, 2017

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