February 29, 2012
A 13-year-old boy from the Sunbury area could be held in a youth detention facility until the age of 21 after changing his plea Wednesday on charges that he killed his mother’s fiance.
The boy, whom the Gazette is not naming because of his age, admitted that he shot and killed 38-year-old Jeffrey Reece April 23. In a plea deal with prosecutors, the boy admitted to one count of involuntary manslaughter with a gun specification, a lesser offense than his original charge of murder.
The “serious youth offender” indictment, which would have allowed prosecutors to increase the maximum sentence the boy could receive if convicted, was also dismissed as part of the plea deal.
The boy and his 33-year-old mother, whom the Gazette is also not identifying, had lived with Reece in a barn on Stockwell Road in Trenton Township for about six months before the shooting.
Appearing in court Wednesday in a green juvenile detention facility jumpsuit and handcuffs the boy described what led to the shooting.
“On the night it happened, Jeff woke up, and he was very agitated,” the boy told Judge Kenneth Spicer.
“Him and my mom got into a fight, and it started to escalate,” the boy continued. “I felt very threatened and afraid. I went upstairs, got a gun and loaded it and sat on the stairsteps. He went after my mom, and I shot him twice.”
Spicer set a sentencing, date for 9 a.m. Jan. 11, 2012, where it will be decided how long the boy will be confined to a detention center. Prosecutors said he will spend at least two years in the custody of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) and could stay until he is 21 years old.
The boy was scheduled to face a two-week jury trial on Nov. 28. He faces a minimum of two years in a youth detention facility with the possibility of staying until he is 21 years old. The gun specification carries a penalty of one to three years in a detention facility, which he will be required to serve prior to time received for the involuntary manslaughter charge.
The boy remains detained at the Central Ohio Youth Center in Marysville where he has been detained since April. His mother also attended the court hearing, but declined to speak to the press.
In the early morning hours of April 23, the boy called 911 and told a dispatcher he shot Reece after Reece threatened the boy and his mother with a shotgun. The boy’s mother later told the dispatcher her son shot Reece a second time while he laid bleeding on the ground to make sure he was dead.