Mattapan Teen Arraigned as ‘Youthful Offender’ in Younger Brother’s Death

A 14-year-old boy charged with the February 7 shooting death of his younger brother, Janmarcos Pena, 9, in the Peña family’s home on Morton Street was arraigned as a ‘youthful offender’ last week, opening him up to adult sanctions if found guilty in the case.

The teen, identified as Juanly Peña of Dorchester, pleaded innocent to the charges of manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Being indicted as a youthful offender opens Peña’s case to the public; had he been charged as a juvenile the case would remain closed, his name not released, and, if convicted, he would be sent to state custody where he can legally only be held until he reaches 18. Now, if convicted, his youthful offender status exposes Peña to both juvenile and adult sanctions in relation to his sentence.

As a youthful offender Peña can be committed to the state Division of Youth Services until he is 21, charged as an adult, or a combination of the two sentences. The maximum penalty for an adult convicted of manslaughter is 20 years.

Police believe the shooting was accidental. Peña will return to court on May 27.

Press release from Suffolk County District Attorney’s office:

BOSTON, April 28, 2014—A Dorchester teen was arraigned in the Suffolk County Juvenile Court today after his indictment under the state’s youthful offender statute for the shooting death of his 9-year-old brother, District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said today.

JUANLY PEÑA, 14, of Dorchester was formally charged with manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm for the Feb. 7 shooting death of Janmarcos Peña, 9, in their Morton Street home. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum, Judge Terry Craven transferred the $50,000 cash bail imposed at his earlier arraignment as a juvenile to this case.

The youthful offender indictment opens Peña’s case to the public and, if he is convicted, exposes him both to juvenile sanctions and to sanctions an adult would face. The indictment was returned by the Suffolk County Grand Jury on April 18.

“The evidence does not suggest that the defendant found a handgun and accidentally shot someone while playing with it,” Conley said. “It suggests that the defendant procured the weapon on his own initiative and, though apparently believing it to be unloaded, pulled the trigger while it was pointed at his brother. We believe that wanton and reckless conduct cost Janmarcos Peña his life.”

Polumbaum told the court today that the defendant had stopped going to school after he was arrested for fighting. On the morning of the incident, he was home with his sister and younger brother, Janmarcos, who was playing video games while his mother went to the car as she undertook efforts to obtain home schooling services for the defendant.

At about 11:30, Polumbaum said, Juanly Peña approached his brother while holding a semiautomatic handgun. Peña later told investigators that he “squeezed the trigger,” believing the weapon to be unloaded because he had removed the ammunition magazine. Instead, this action discharged a round from the chamber.

Though Juanly Peña did not admit to aiming the gun at Janmarcos Peña, the bullet entered the younger boy’s upper chest from a distance of about two to three feet, Polumbaum said. Janmarcos was mortally wounded and, despite the heroic efforts of responding Boston Police and emergency medical technicians, he was pronounced dead of his injuries at Boston Medical Center.

Polumbaum told the court that Juanly Peña started to call 911 but instead told his sister to call. He then left the house with the firearm and was stopped about two-thirds of a mile away by additional Boston Police officers. He disclosed that he was carrying the gun, which was seized and later matched to the round that killed Janmarcos.

Though Juanly Peña gave a “detailed statement” to detectives about the morning’s events, Polumbaum said, he was “vague” about the circumstances under which he obtained the weapon – including who provided it to him. That aspect of the investigation remains open, prosecutors said.

In the event that he is able to post bail, Craven ordered that he be released only to his mother, that he wear a GPS monitor, and that he remain under house arrest with exceptions only in the event that he is attending school.

Timothy Munzert is the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Peña is represented by attorney Michael Doolin. He will return to court on May 27.

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