A Valencia teen-ager pleaded not guilty today to charges that he murdered a school friend during a one-sided game of Russian roulette, authorities said.
The 14-year-old suspect, who was not named because he is a juvenile, denied the charge during a brief arraignment hearing at Sylmar Juvenile Court. Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Craig R. Richman said a denial in juvenile court is similar to a not guilty plea in criminal court.
The boy is charged in the Tuesday killing of Gabriel Soto, 13, of Newhall. Authorities said the suspect, Soto and another 14-year-old were in the suspect's home when he partially loaded his father's gun and took turns pointing it at himself and the others, pulling the trigger. Soto and the other boy, Aaron Schwartz, were described by Soto's parents as unwilling participants in the game.
The suspect, who had apparently played Russian roulette with another boy two weeks earlier but did not injure him, was being held at Sylmar Juvenile Hall. Judge Morton Rochman scheduled a hearing for June 21 to set a trial date. If convicted, the boy could be sentenced to the California Youth Authority until he is 25.