Manslaughter charge filed in death of 12-year-old

Wednesday, July 30th 2008, 1:25 pm

By: News 9

Associated Press  

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Oklahoma County prosecutors filed a first-degree manslaughter charge against a 14-year-old boy who shot and killed his 12-year-old friend while playing with a loaded revolver.

The 14-year-old boy, whose name is not being released because of his age, surrendered himself to authorities on Tuesday and was booked into the county's juvenile detention facility, Sheriff John Whetsel said.

Whetsel said his office recommended the charge after interviewing the teen and determining that his account of the shooting changed several times.

"Finally, the 14-year-old told deputies he'd been pointing the handgun at the victim, the 12-year-old boy, and that at some time the victim had hit him in the back with a dustpan," Whetsel said. "At that point, the suspect claimed that he turned toward the victim, pointing the firearm, and that his thumb slipped off the hammer and the weapon discharged, with a single round striking the victim in the head."

The victim, 12-year-old John White, was playing at the suspect's home on July 7 when he was shot with a .22-caliber revolver. He was taken to the OU Medical Center, where he died two days later.

The teen's handling of the firearm was reckless, which also led investigators to recommend the manslaughter charge, Whetsel said.

"If he didn't have that gun in his hand and he wasn't playing with that gun, that 12-year-old boy would still be alive today," he said.

Mary White, the victim's mother, said Wednesday she knew the teen and was surprised to learn that his version of events changed while talking to investigators.

"I had thought all this time that the first story he told the police was correct. When it changed, I was just shocked," White said. "I've known this kid for two years. He's always showed nothing but the utmost respect."

White said her family was not consulted about charges being filed and that she sympathizes with the suspect's family.

"This is the last thing I'd wish on them," she said.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he doesn't anticipate an attempt to certify the teen as an adult.

If the teen is found guilty, he could face a range of punishment from probation to a sentence in a lockdown juvenile detention facility, Prater said.

White said her son was cremated and buried next to her grandfather at a cemetery in Luther. She said several of her son's organs were donated.

"He was a great kid in life, and he always liked to help people," Mary White said. "I think he'd be tickled to know that he was able to help other people."

White said her family also plans to urge the Legislature to consider a law requiring gun locks on firearms.

"If his grandfather had the proper locks on those guns ... that gun would have never gone off and I would never have lost my son," she said.

No one other than the 14-year-old will be charged, the sheriff's office said in a statement:
"It has been determined that there is not enough evidence to file against any of the adults who live at the home where the shooting occurred."


Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News 9 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

July 30th, 2008

July 20th, 2022

August 31st, 2021

August 13th, 2021

Top Headlines

October 4th, 2022

October 4th, 2022

October 4th, 2022

October 4th, 2022