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Pierre boy to be tried as adult in teen's killing

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE (AP) -- A 17-year-old Pierre boy will be tried as an adult in the fatal shooting of a classmate, a judge ruled late Friday.

Circuit Court Judge John Brown said the seriousness of the crime, its impact on the community and the families, and the lack of remorse in Braiden McCahren factored into the decision.

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McCahren pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder and aggravated assault in the Dec. 18 shooting death of Dalton Williams, 16.

McCahren is accused of shooting Williams with a shotgun after first pointing the weapon at another 16-year-old boy following an argument about a paintball game.

If convicted as a juvenile, McCahren could have been held by the state until he was 21. In adult court, he faces up to life in prison. His trial is scheduled to start Oct. 21.

This week's hearing focused largely on whether the shooting of Williams in the McCahren home was an accident, as the defense argued, or murder.

Defense attorneys William Taylor and Brad Schreiber argued that McCahren had not tried to shoot anyone and that the gun was fired accidentally. A gun expert testified that it was possible a shell had been "hidden" in the gun and wasn't found until it was fired.

The defense also used behavioral experts who testified that McCahren suffered emotional and physical problems in which he had difficulty judging right from wrong. Taylor told Brown that this was not a murder case.

"It seems to me like an impulsive young man who did something incredibly stupid that he will regret the rest of his life," Taylor said.

But special prosecutor Michael Moore, the Beadle County state's attorney, argued that McCahren had a history of violent, reckless behavior since childhood. Moore said the other juvenile witness at the scene said McCahren had aimed the 20-gauge shotgun at him two or three times and pulled the trigger two or three times before shooting Williams.

"He took a gun, pointed it at somebody and pulled the trigger again and again," Moore told Brown. "Normal teenagers don't do this. This is not juvenile boys being boys."

In his ruling, Brown called the shooting a tragedy for everyone and said McCahren's behavior "was aggressive, it was violent and it was willful."

KCCR-AM reported that when Brown announced his ruling, sobs could be heard from the Williams family and also from those on McCahren's side. McCahren showed no visible emotion as he was led out of the courthouse.

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