Teen accused of shooting boy still locked up

Judge denies defense request to let him return to his family

A magistrate on Friday ordered a 15-year-old Grand Junction boy accused of shooting and wounding another teenager in an Orchard Mesa home to continue to be locked up in a juvenile detention facility, saying the boy hasn’t proven he can be supervised in the community and stay out of trouble.

Mesa County Magistrate William McNulty denied a request from Michael Manzanares’ attorney and mother to grant him bond and allow him to be released to live with his grandparents.

“The tricky part about this case is, of course, if the allegations are true — and part of them may very well be true as far as the unlawful possession (of a handgun by a juvenile) at least — it certainly suggests Michael is capable of going to a fair extent to evade supervision that Ms. Manzanares is so eager to enforce.”

Michael Manzanares has been charged with numerous counts, including second-degree assault, possession of a handgun by a juvenile, reckless endangerment, prohibited use of a weapon and sentence-enhancing charges of crime of violence, violent juvenile offender and repeat juvenile offender. State law allows names and criminal records of juveniles charged with crimes that would be felonies if committed by adults to be made public.

The charges stem from two separate cases in which the teen is accused of stealing a .223 caliber rifle from a home late on the night of Aug. 30, then bringing it to a home in the 1700 block of Christopher Court the next day and shooting his 14-year-old friend. The friend, who is dating Manzanares’ sister, was seriously injured but survived.

The gun was missing for several days but has since been recovered “in an unrelated case that is still open and being actively investigated by our agency,” Grand Junction police spokeswoman Heidi Davidson said Friday.

Authorities have said the victim and several other juveniles were drinking and smoking marijuana at the home at the time of the Aug. 31 shooting. Chief Deputy District Attorney Trish Mahre revealed for the first time Friday that there was also cocaine present in the room where the shooting occurred.

A witness who was at the home said Manzanares and the victim were threatening to shoot each other before the shooting occurred.

Prosecutors have alleged Manzanares was acting recklessly. The teen’s attorney, Matt Hardin, said multiple witnesses to the shooting, including the victim himself, insist it was an accident.

“This is an isolated incident,” Hardin said. “No different from a situation in which a kid is playing with matches and accidentally ends up catching something on fire. No different from a kid who is playing with fireworks and accidentally has something go off. No different from a kid playing with a BB gun that doesn’t anticipate the target behind the target and ends up hurting somebody.”

Manzanares was on probation at the time of the shooting for his involvement in the theft of a gun from a vehicle. Probation officials filed a probation violation case against Manzanares during his Friday court hearing.

Hardin said Manzanares was completing his public service from the initial gun theft case, paying his fines and court costs, attending school and following the rules at home. He and the boy’s mother, Renee, also claimed the teen has experienced his own trauma as a result of the shooting, and they argued keeping him in the Division of Youth Corrections would prevent him from getting the therapy and treatment he needs.

“To deny bond during this judicial process will result in a further emotional distress of Michael,” Renee Manzanares said.

Mahre said the shooting victim’s father is opposed to Manzanares being released, but that he couldn’t attend Friday’s hearing out of fear he wouldn’t be able to control his temper.

She also noted that rather than render aid to his friend, Manzanares fled the scene.

“After this juvenile shot the other individual, he didn’t stay,” she said. “He didn’t stay and help his friend. He did not stay and help the boyfriend to his sister. He fled. After he fled, the gun disappeared, the cocaine disappeared, the marijuana disappeared. And I’m not suggesting that (Manzanares) is responsible for that. It sounds like other individuals were responsible for that.

“Again, he’s a juvenile and maybe it freaked him out. But he didn’t stay and help his friend. Other people had to take over and seek medical care for that individual.”

Hardin retorted that it was “absolutely ridiculous” to think that Manzanares would do anything but run away.

“It’s a 15-year-old kid that just saw something that was absolutely the craziest, most traumatic thing he’s ever seen. What did he do? He ran home to his mommy. That’s what kids do,” he said.

McNulty, though, said he didn’t hear sufficient new information to justify granting Manzanares bond.

Manzanares is scheduled to return to court next week.


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