Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Teen Sentenced to Give Speeches on Gun Control

Judge is lenient in sentencing teen who shot stepbrother

SEATTLE -- A Burien teen who shot his stepbrother by accident has been sentenced to 24 months of home detention by a judge who said justice has to be tailored for each person.

Timothy Miller and Lena Jantoc pleaded for leniency for their son Jordan Jantoc almost a year after another son, Michael "Mikey" Miller, was accidentally shot and killed in the basement of their Burien home.

"We are overwhelmed every day. We feel it every day when we look at Jordan," Lena Jantoc sobbed. "Punishing Jordan will never ease the pain of losing Michael."

The family's pastor, a school principal and tearful relatives all urged Superior Court Judge Harry McCarthy to not send Jordan, 16, to prison as recommended by prosecutors. The judge agreed.

"I think this is a case where justice needs to be tempered with mercy," McCarthy said before he sentenced Jordan to 24 months of home detention, followed by probation when he will be required to give speeches on gun control.

"This is an extraordinary case to say the least," McCarthy said. "It has resulted in a real tragedy for the family."

Jordan cried throughout much of the court hearing and apologized repeatedly to his family for the pain he has caused them.

"I take full responsibility for what I did," he said. "He was my brother. We did everything together."

On Sept. 21, 2006, the two boys were in the basement of the family home when Jordan pulled a silver .380-caliber handgun from underneath his mattress to show his stepbrother. King County sheriff's deputies said Jordan had obtained the weapon by trading a 9-mm Glock that he'd stolen from his stepfather.

The two were examining the weapon when it went off, a bullet lodging in Mikey's collarbone.

"The gun was not aimed at Mikey," defense attorney Matthew King said.

Deputy Prosecutor Don Raz told the judge that he and Jordan's family had agreed that the teen should serve a significantly reduced sentence. Jordan had pleaded guilty in July to first-degree manslaughter, which carries a penalty of up to eight years in prison.

But Raz said Jordan should face incarceration for such a "serious violent crime" in addition to the 353 days of electronic detention he has served. McCarthy disagreed, though, and said justice "has to sometimes be tailored for each person."