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El Paso County jury finds teen guilty of manslaughter

Last August, a 19-year-old man shot a mechanic seven times outside of Big O Tire in Monument, Colorado, during an altercation involving the mechanic and the teen's father. Last week, an El Paso County jury found the man guilty of reckless manslaughter for the shooting after close to eight hours of deliberating.

The incident began when the 19-year-old, who was 18 at the time, was at the tire shop with his father and 15-year-old brother getting a flat tire repaired. Reportedly, the off-duty mechanic, who had been drinking that morning, began making a scene and got into it with the father.

Then, as the three men were trying to leave in their pick-up, the off-duty mechanic, with a bottle of liquor in his back pocket, allegedly reached into the truck and knocked off the father's glasses while threatening to kill him.

It was then when the teen testified that he grabbed his father's gun, got out of the truck and fired at the off-duty mechanic, in effort to protect his father, who suffers from high blood pressure. All seven shots fired by the teen hit the mechanic, and he died at the scene.

The prosecution told the jury that firing seven shots was a gross overreaction and that the teen should have fired a warning shot instead, as the mechanic was unarmed. The prosecution asked the jury to find the teen guilty of first degree murder.

But the defense said that the shots were made in a "split-second decision" that was out of defense for the teen's father, whom the teen thought was in serious danger. The defense attorney told the jury that "[e]very single one of those shots ... was in defense of his dad."

Only when an attack is "imminent" and likely to result in serious injury or death is a fatal shooting lawful in the state of Colorado, and the jury ruled partly in favor or the prosecution and partly in favor of the defense.

The teen will now be sentenced on August 17 and faces between two to six years in prison, or up to 12 years if the judge concludes that there were aggravating circumstances involved in the crime.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, "19-year-old guilty of manslaughter in Big O killing," Angie Jackson, 6/10/2011.

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