Teen gets probation for pellet-gun incident
An Aspen Middle School student who shot a fellow student with a pellet gun last winter was sentenced to two years of probation Monday in juvenile court.The student, who was 13 at the time, was expelled from school until January 2005 after the incident. His name is being withheld because of his age.In May the teenager pleaded guilty to reckless endangerment and third-degree assault. The incident stemmed from an altercation that occurred between the high school and the Aspen Recreation Center. The student pulled out a pellet gun and fired it multiple times at the victim, bruising his abdomen.As part of his sentence, the student must surrender the pellet gun to authorities, continue with counseling sessions and perform 40 hours of community service. He will also participate in the valley’s Restorative Justice Program, where he’ll make contact with the victim to talk about the incident and write a formal letter of apology.The victim was not seriously injured in the incident on Feb. 10, though he did show the Aspen Middle School principal red marks on his body and the jacket he was wearing, which had holes in it. According to Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols, who handled the case yesterday, a number of events led up to the incident, making the case “particularly difficult.”Nichols said although the relationship between the defendant and the victim did not constitute bullying, there was “continuing animosity” between the two students, and the defendant had allegedly used a racial slur in referring to the victim.Two days following the pellet gun incident – which was not reported to authorities immediately – the defendant was allegedly found with a razor blade at school, saying “he was going to get” the victim, Nichols said. A teacher took the knife away from the defendant, who allegedly said he must have taken the tool to school as a mistake.The teenager also left a message on the principal’s answering machine after the pellet gun incident, saying she was ruining his life, Nichols said. He later called the principal back and apologized, Nichols said.”I was just angry at the time – she wasn’t ruining my life,” the defendant said when questioned by Judge James Boyd about the phone call. “I was just scared.”Nichols said a friend of the defendant told police the boy had said that he was just going to “scare” the victim with the pellet gun. The teenager told the judge that “making stupid decisions” was what resulted in his actions.Judge Boyd complimented the defendant and his family for immediately entering counseling after the incident, and said that juvenile court is about “focusing on how to get through this, rather than punishing you for what you do.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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