Shooting case could be headed for plea bargain
Eric Stoneman has a court hearing next week that may decide his future.On Thursday, Stoneman’s attorneys, public defenders Greg Greer and Jim Conway, as well as Assistant District Attorney Vince Felletter met with chief District Court Judge Peter Craven to set a date for what Felletter characterized as a plea bargain hearing on Dec. 22.Stoneman, 14, is accused of shooting and killing 9-year-old Taylor DeMarco, in a Battlement Mesa mobile home on July 20.Felletter said he and the public defenders “have been in discussions about negotiating (a plea bargain). We’re close.”Stoneman has been charged as an adult with first-degree murder, and if convicted, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.Such an adult charge carries a range of options for a plea bargain, Felletter has said. Commonly, plea bargains include lesser charges if the offender agrees to plead guilty.Judges also have discretion in passing sentence in felony cases, including prison, probation and anything in between. They may also sentence a youth who is convicted as an adult to time in a juvenile offender facility, Felletter has said.Besides the offender, plea negotiations also consider the victim or victims of the crime and the affected community.Stoneman’s first-degree murder charge has been challenged by juvenile advocate groups as being too harsh. Stoneman was 14 when he shot DeMarco, the youngest age for which a person can be charged as an adult in Colorado.A juvenile charged with a class one felony can spend at most seven years in juvenile detention.Felletter has also said that one of the considerations in filing the adult charge was the fact that felonies stay on a person’s record for the rest of their life. Juvenile convictions can be cleared or sealed after a period of time, so there is no lasting record.Stoneman did not appear in court Thursday. He is being held without bond at Grand Mesa Youth Detention Center in Grand Junction. Greer said he waived his right to be present in court on Greer and Conway’s advice because “he has to move through the (Garfield County) adult jail.”Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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