A teenage boy pleaded guilty Thursday to his involvement in the accidental shooting of his 17-year-old friend while playing around with a stolen handgun in his St. Paul basement last month.
The 16-year-old, whom the Star Tribune is not naming because he is a minor, entered his plea in Ramsey County District Court to second-degree manslaughter/culpable negligence that created unreasonable risk in connection with the Nov. 6 death of Da’Qwan Jones-Morris. The 15-year-old who pulled the trigger faces similar charges, though his name and details of his case were not released because of his age, according to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. He has not yet entered a plea.
Prosecutors requested a four-year stayed sentence for the 16-year-old, meaning he will be spared time in adult prison if he follows the conditions of his release. The teen was transferred to Dakota County for juvenile disposition, which will decide how and where he serves his probation — likely until age 21.
The boys had gone to Jones-Morris’ mother’s home in the 150 block of E. Annapolis Street to play video games, according to the juvenile complaint. At first, the teens told police conflicting stories about where the gun came from, apparently trying to protect one another. But both described casual mishandling of the weapon that ended with an accidental fatal shot and the call to 911 at 3:37 p.m.
When police arrived, Jones-Morris was lying in a pool of blood, video equipment and school backpacks scattered about. The older teen told police he stole the gun on Halloween, taking it from the front passenger seat of an SUV parked near the high school with the driver passed out.
The older teen told police that while the three boys played video games, he unloaded the gun and handed it to the younger teen, who pulled the trigger, slid the magazine and “pointed it around.” The younger teen then handed it back.
The older teen said he then reloaded the gun and told his younger friend to put it back into the bag.
The 15-year-old told police he didn’t know it was loaded when he pulled the trigger, shooting Jones-Morris in the torso as he played a video game.