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Youth Sentenced in Accidental Slaying of Fairfax Student : Courts: Teen-ager will most likely live with family friends outside county and receive counseling. D.A.'s office recommended harsher term.

November 21, 1993|From a Times Staff Writer

A Juvenile Court judge has ordered that a 15-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed a classmate at Fairfax High School be sent to a "suitable placement" so that he may receive counseling and education, the boy's lawyer said Saturday.

In ordering that the boy--whose name was withheld because of his age--not be sent to the California Youth Authority, Sylmar Juvenile Court Judge Morton Rochman decided against the recommendations of the district attorney's office and Probation Department.

Deputy Public Defender Peter Swarth said the judge gave more weight to a 90-day psychological evaluation that he ordered after finding the youth guilty of involuntary manslaughter with the enhancement that a gun was used.

The report said that aside from the circumstances surrounding the shooting, the boy "has not demonstrated a pattern of delinquent or aggressive behavior in the community."

Demetrius Rice, 16, was killed Jan. 21 in his classroom at Fairfax High, when the .357-caliber magnum the boy was carrying in his backpack accidentally fired. A second student was injured in the shooting, but has recovered.

The boy, who Swarth said had no prior criminal record, told authorities he was carrying his grandfather's gun as protection against gang members who had been harassing him.

Pending Probation Department approval, Swarth said, his client would probably be sent to live with family friends outside Los Angeles County. Under the terms of the sentencing, the Juvenile Court will check on the boy's progress about every three months before deciding whether to send him back home.

The psychological evaluation said the boy was extremely remorseful about the shooting, and often replays the scene in his mind. The boy "stated that he will never pick up a gun again," it said.

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