A 15 year old Kearns, Utah teen was arrested for felony manslaughter after the boy was playing with a shotgun and fired a deadly shot at his step-brother.
16 year old Jerrad Jacobsen and his 15 year old step-brother were in Jacobsen’s bedroom with a loaded weapon before school when Jacobsen was fatally shot in the head. The original statement from the step-brother stated Jacobsen accidentally shot himself while the step-brother was turned around but the story was later revised to affirm the 15 year old was the one with the gun. The mother of the deceased claims the shooting to be non-accidental, yet intent to kill has not been proven. Police have arrested and charged the step-brother with second degree manslaughter as well as obstruction of justice.
After police again questioned the teen about the fatal incident, the step-brother admitted he was the one with shotgun. He told police he pointed the gun at Jacobsen and pulled the trigger. The teen claims it was an accident as he was unaware the gun was loaded. Even if the death was an accident, it was something that could have been avoided had the teen not been behaving in a careless manner. The 15 year old is charged with “. . . recklessly caus[ing] the death of another”, which Utah Code 76-5-205 defines as manslaughter, a second degree felony. At this time, investigators have not found evidence to support the claim that Jacobsen’s death was done on purpose. If the step-brother’s actions are found to be intentional, he could face first-degree homicide charges.
Obstruction of justice
The 15 year old step-brother is also facing a third degree felony for obstruction of justice since he initially lied to police about who had the gun when it went off. Utah Code 76-8-306 states: “An actor commits obstruction of justice if the actor, with intent to hinder, delay, or prevent the investigation, apprehension, prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person regarding conduct that constitutes a criminal offense:. . . provides false information regarding a suspect, a witness, the conduct constituting an offense, or any other material aspect of the investigation.”
Gun safety and education
This fatal incident is a reminder to all parents to teach their children about gun safety and to ensure that any firearms in the home are unloaded and out of children’s reach. Teens who may be in regular control of a firearm under a parent’s guidance should participate in a gun education course to help ensure they practice responsible behavior around firearms and know how to safely handle and unload a weapon. Any teens facing legal trouble should consult with an attorney who can help guide them to be honest during questioning without further incriminating themselves of a crime .