A 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter Friday for fatally shooting a 13-year-old neighbor boy in the face in a wooded area near the Joint Base Lewis-McChord fence line last year.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh then sentenced Adonis Brown to seven years, 10 months in prison, three months short of the high-end term of confinement requested by deputy prosecutor Jared Ausserer.
Neither the adult charge, which constitutes a strike under Washington’s “three strikes you’re out” law, nor the sentence satisfied the parents of Alexander Demello.
“He brought a gun. It went off and my son is gone,” said Jamie Demello, Alexander’s mother. “I wish my son could get sent away for seven years and then come back home.”
The shooting occurred Oct. 20.
Alexander was walking with his brother and Brown when he was shot in the face. He died several days later.
Brown told police he and Alexander had been passing the gun back and forth when it discharged. He called the shooting an accident.
Ausserer said in court Friday that the second-degree manslaughter charge was appropriate given the evidence in the case.
“I think this is the appropriate resolution,” the deputy prosecutor said.
Defense attorney Les Tolzin agreed.
“This was an accident,” said Tolzin, who asked for a low-end sentence of six years, 10 months in prison.
Jamie Demello then told Rumbaugh she thought her son had been murdered and wished that Brown had been charged and sentenced as such.
“My boys did not know he had a gun,” she said. “If it was so innocent, why did he flee?”
Demello said her son dreamed of playing professional baseball and was a well-liked student and friend.
Brown told Rumbaugh he fled the scene after the shooting because he was scared and confused.
“I also was ashamed of myself for what happened,” he said.
Brown also apologized to Alexander’s parents, including the boy’s father, Michael Demello, who also attended the hearing and spoke on his son’s behalf.
“No parent should have to go through this,” Brown said.
Rumbaugh got the last word.
“There’s nothing anyone on this Earth can do to make this better,” the judge said. “When you pick up a gun, the game changes.”