Juanly Peña, 15, of Dorchester pleaded guilty to charges of manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm in a Suffolk County Juvenile Courtroom Wednesday following the death of his 9-year-old brother in February 2014.
On the morning of Feb. 7, the teen shot his brother, Janmarcos, with what he thought was an unloaded handgun while Janmarcos was playing video games. The boy ran into a hallway and collapsed, unable to recover from his injuries.
Both defendant and prosecutors agree the death was an accident.
Peña, who was charged as a youthful offender, was sentenced to six years in the custody of Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. Upon his release, he faces a three-year probation period as a result of his firearms charge.
A press release from the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office below.
Aug. 20, 2014
Youth, 15, Admits Accidentally Shooting, Killing 9-Year-Old Brother
(BOSTON) — A Dorchester teen today admitted to fatally shooting his 9-year-old brother with a handgun that he thought was unloaded, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
During an appearance this morning in the Suffolk County Juvenile Court, JUANLY PEÑA, 15, admitted to charges of manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm in the Feb. 7 shooting death of his brother Janmarcos Peña, accepting a commitment to the Department of Youth Services and the possibility of state prison if he re-offends after his release.
Assistant District Attorney Ian Polumbaum of the DA’s Homicide Unit recommended that Peña serve a committed sentence of three years and three months in a secure facility – ending just before his 18th birthday – and remain in DYS custody until age 21. Polumbaum also recommended a two- to three-year prison sentence suspended until Peña turns 24 so that he would be monitored by the court after his release from custody.
First Justice Terry Craven sentenced Peña to DYS custody until age 21, but allowed DYS to determine what portion of that sentence would be served in a secure facility. Craven imposed a three-year suspended sentence and probation period ending on Peña’s 24th birthday, during which time he must abide by strict conditions requested by prosecutors, including that he obtain his GED, undergo a mental health evaluation and any treatment deemed necessary, not have any contact with gang members and not incur any new criminal charges.
Prosecutors earlier this year obtained indictments of Peña as a youthful offender, opening his case to the public and exposing him to both juvenile sanctions and sanctions an adult would face. A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, while the firearm charge carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.
Had the case proceeded to trial, Polumbaum and fellow ADA Beth Keeley of the DA’s Child Protection Unit would have introduced evidence to prove that on Feb. 7, Janmarcos Peña begged his mother to let him stay home from school with her; Juanly Peña was also home, as he had not attended school most of the winter. Peña walked into the home’s den carrying a semi-automatic handgun; he had removed the magazine but was unaware that a live round remained in the chamber. Standing within two to three feet of where his younger brother sat in a chair playing video games, Peña squeezed the trigger, firing a shot that struck Janmarcos in the upper chest, traveled down his torso, and exited his lower back. Janmarcos ran into the hall and collapsed.
Peña began to dial 911, but handed the phone to his sister and fled the home. Before he left, he reloaded the gun with the magazine containing one live round of ammunition, Polumbaum said. Boston Police caught up with Peña on Walkhill Road a short time later. He informed officers that he was carrying a firearm.
Janmarcos was rushed from the scene by ambulance but pronounced dead at a hospital.
During a post-Miranda interview with his mother present, Peña told police that he had met someone at an MBTA station a day prior and was at that time introduced to another person who provided him with the firearm. That gun was matched to the bullet that killed Janmarcos and to a shell casing found in the room where the shooting occurred.
Victim-witness advocates Jennifer Sears and Tim Munzert assisted prosecutors on the case. Peña was represented by attorney Michael Doolin.