Jury finds teen who shot friend to be justified in killing

AP News
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Posted: Aug 06, 2015 6:26 PM
Jury finds teen who shot friend to be justified in killing

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A special jury that convened for an inquest into the May shooting death of a Montana teenager at the hands of his friend has found the shooter committed justifiable homicide.

Seth Culver, 17, shot and killed 15-year-old MacKeon "Mackey" Schulte when the younger boy knocked on his bedroom window in the middle of the night.

The jury ruled Wednesday that Culver was justified in shooting the victim, who he thought was an intruder, and ruled the act was not criminal, The Billings Gazette reported (http://bit.ly/1OSi7zw ).

A teenage boy who was with Schulte testified that they went to Culver's house at 2:30 a.m. on May 17 as a joke. He said Schulte tapped on the window, then moved a cinderblock by the window and looked inside. He was shot almost instantly, the boy said.

The coroner's jury also watched a video of police questioning Culver after the shooting. He said he feared for his life when he was awakened by a noise, and he grabbed a revolver that his father had given him. He said a face popped up in the window, he saw an arm rising, and he fired the shot. Culver said if he'd known it was Schulte, he wouldn't have fired the gun.

Afterward, Schulte's mother, Valerie Carr Traeholt, said the shooting was clearly an accident.

"I've always supported Seth, and I will continue to support Seth in that decision," Traeholt said. "I have to because you can't let your emotions get away from what's prudent and lawful."

Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito said he planned to meet with the two prosecuting attorneys involved in the case to determine if his office should accept or decline the findings of the coroner's jury.

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This version has been updated to correct the transposed names of the shooter and victim in the fourth paragraph.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com