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A 15-year-old boy has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide in the December shooting death of 14-year-old Aidan Neary.
A closed-door disposition was held Wednesday in juvenile court that sentenced Kevin Michaud to a juvenile lock-up facility for up to two years. He also pleaded guilty to felony assault.
A hearing is being held today to determine which juvenile facility the teenager will be sent to.
Michaud had originally been charged with second degree murder for the Dec. 10, 2008, shooting that left Neary dead and 14-year-old Chase Schneider seriously injured. Five boys, all Juneau-Douglas High School freshmen at the time of the incident, were home alone at Michaud's house in the Mendenhall Valley when he fired a Magnum handgun taken from a locked cabinet that went through Neary's chest and struck Schneider in the lower back.
A plea bargain negated the need for a jury trial, said Joe Adelmeyer, chief probation officer for the state Division of Juvenile Justice.
"That was in the best interest of everybody," he said. "And really I think it's in the best interest of the poor victims. They don't need to go in there and keep rehashing this over and over."
The Division of Juvenile Justice wanted to ensure there was a criminal conviction in the case due to the nature of the crime, Adelmeyer said. The division felt that criminally negligent homicide fit the deed, he said.
"Although the (second-degree murder) charge fit, we figured that criminally negligent homicide, which is also a felony, that fit a bit better," he said. "And everybody was on board with that."
The Juneau Police Department originally reported the incident as an "accidental shooting" after the boys began "playing a game with the guns."
The charges later did not reflect that it was a game, according to the statutes.
"If you read it, it says, 'A person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if, with criminal negligence, the person causes the death of another person.' That statute certainly does not read like a game," Adelmeyer said.
The section of the second-degree murder statute the division used to originally charge Michaud reads, "the person knowingly engages in conduct that results in the death of another person under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life."
Neither victims' families could be reached for comment.
Mike Michaud, Kevin's father, said Thursday he would not make any statements about his son's case.
Kevin Michaud will be out of the juvenile lock-up facility before he turns 18, Adelmeyer said. A person must be at least 16 years old at the time of a crime to be tried as an adult in Alaska.
The juvenile justice system deals with treatment and remediation programs for offenders as opposed to a prison-like environment, Adelmeyer said. The facilities provide individual counseling, therapists, anger management groups, substance abuse programs and a transitional program for prerelease.
"They individualize that based on what the issues are," he said.
The court proceedings were closed to the public, but due to the nature of the crime Alaska statute allows the Division of Juvenile Justice to release the minor's name and the outcome of the case.
"Generally speaking it is confidential information, except in these kind of extreme cases," Adelmeyer said.
Adelmeyer could not speak on specifics of the case.
The felony will remain on Michaud's juvenile criminal record forever but it will not be included on his adult criminal record.
"This will not be able to be expunged from his juvenile record, but the caveat to that is it will not be used against him as an adult ever, and he doesn't have to go around and tell anybody that this is on his record unless he commits a crime as an adult," Adelmeyer said.
If Michaud were to commit a crime as an adult, particularly a felony against another person, then it would be revealed in court and could lead to a more severe sentence, Adelmeyer said.
"If he keeps his nose clean he'll be fine," he said.
Adelmeyer said he hopes people will remember from this tragic incident that guns are deadly weapons.
"People need to really think about guns in general and that they are really dangerous weapons and they are not toys," he said. "Gun use is really sensationalized in television and movies and it doesn't seem like it's all that serious until something like this happens."
Contact reporter Eric Morrison at 523-2269 or firstname.lastname@example.org.