Gypsum teen pleads guilty to shooting his dad
EAGLE — A 14-year-old Gypsum boy admitted Tuesday that he shot his father twice in the head, killing him, and then holed up in the house for six days with the body.
District Court Judge Fred Gannett called it the most “significant” juvenile case he has handled.
The boy sat quietly and still during Tuesday’s plea hearing, looking at Gannett as he answered each of the judge’s questions. After he pleaded guilty and the hearing was done and the courtroom thinned out, he smiled softly when his mother was allowed to sit beside him at the defendant’s table and talk for a while before he was taken back to jail, where he’ll spend the next 10 years.
The teen, dressed in green jail-issued cotton pants and a black T-shirt, sat at the defendant’s table, flanked by his two attorneys from the public defender’s office, Reed Owens and Ann Roan. His close-cropped hair was 6 inches shorter than it was during his first court appearance in April.
A counselor made her way to the table and kneeled down beside him, her left arm over his shoulders as she spoke quietly with him. Gannett questioned him as gently as he could in a murder case.
“Is that your signature?” Gannett asked, holding up the guilty plea form.
“Yes, sir,” he answered.
“Did you understand what you were signing?”
“It says you affected or caused the death of another person? Do you understand that?”
If he were an adult, 18 or older, it would be a Class 1 felony, first-degree murder, Gannett said.
The boy said he understood what he was admitting.
“How do you plead?” Gannett asked.
“Guilty,” the boy said.
10 years plus parole
Prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to a plea deal that will put the boy behind bars for the next 10 years — seven years in youth prison and three years in adult prison. He will be released from youth corrections on his 21st birthday, Oct. 16, and be transferred to adult prison. After that, he will be on parole for two years.
The boy is now 14 years old. He was 13 when he shot his father, and he celebrated a birthday in juvenile prison.
The boy’s grandparents — his father’s parents — objected to the sentence, saying it was too harsh, Roan said.
He’ll be officially sentenced at 9 a.m. Thursday in Gannett’s courtroom.
The saga began on April 30, when the victim, the boy’s father, was scheduled to meet with Eagle County sheriff’s deputies to discuss a graffiti investigation in which the boy was a suspect. The father didn’t show up. He also did not show up for work at his job with Eagle County.
Early Monday morning, six days after missing that meeting with investigators and three days of work, the father’s employer contacted the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. The employer told deputies that the man’s juvenile son had called in several days in a row, stating that his father was ill and would not be at work.
Undersheriff Mike McWilliam said it seemed suspicious, so deputies stopped by to make sure everything was OK.
When deputies arrived around 11:30 a.m., the boy answered the door and told deputies that his 50-year-old father was dead in the residence.
His father was shot twice in the head with a .22 caliber rifle, once in the back of the head, and again with the gun’s muzzle against his father’s temple, said Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis.
Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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