Felipe Villanueva, Jr., 14, Wauseon, was sentenced to house arrest for the Wednesday, March 14 shooting death of Michael J. Schwartz, 13, Wauseon.
Villanueva was charged with juvenile delinquency by way of negligent homicide, after what has been called an accidental shooting.
On the morning of the shooting, Villanueva, Schwartz, and a third unidentifi ed boy of about the same age went to the unidentifi ed boy’s home at 444 Howard Ave., Wauseon.
The three boys were alone in the house when Schwartz was shot in the chest with a shotgun. He died later at the Fulton County Health Center.
Wauseon police were called about 6:55 am.
In a disposition hearing in Fulton County Juvenile Court on Thursday, April 12, Michael Bumb, juvenile court judge, removed the boy from his mother’s home in Wauseon and placed him with an aunt and uncle in West Unity.
Schwartz’s mother and grandmother read from prepared statements.
The grandmother told the boy what happened was not an accident; when he pointed the gun at Schwartz, he was guilty of murder. She said she had a lot of anger at Villanueva, adding she could never forgive him.
Schwartz’s mother told Villanueva he had “given me a life sentence of sadness.”
She told Villanueva that she forgave him.
Christina McVay, a counselor at the Northwest Ohio Juvenile Detention, Training, and Rehabilitation Center, told the court Villanueva suffers from nightmares and depression.
He had recently been taken off suicide watch, she said.
Villanueva’s mother read from eight letters she had received from her son’s teachers at Wauseon Middle School.
All cast him as a polite, respectful, soft-spoken boy who was a good student, well liked by his peers.
Villanueva’s lawyer, Clayton Gerbitz, said the official incident report referred to the shooting as an accident 10 times.
He noted one judge’s opposition to the “negligent” clause of Ohio law, saying any mistake could make a person negligent, and therefore, a criminal.
At the end of his presentation, he played a video recorded by Wauseon police soon after the shooting. In it, Villanueva is left alone in a room; within a minute, he is crying and calling for his mother.
In giving his disposition, Bumb called the incident “an absolute tragedy in so many ways.”
Bumb sentenced Villanueva to 90 days in juvenile detention, and credited him with the 30 days he had served. He said he would suspend any remaining time at a later date.
Villanueva was placed on house arrest at his aunt and uncle’s home, with electronic monitoring.
Electronic monitoring places a bracelet around the boy’s ankle and alerts authorities anytime he leaves a certain area.
He will remain on house arrest “until further orders.”
Bumb said Villanueva may only leave his aunt and uncle’s home for counseling, medical matters, and probation issues. He will continue his education via the Internet.
His aunt and uncle’s home and his mother’s home must be inspected. No firearms are permitted in either house.
Villanueva may not obtain a driver license until he reaches the age of 21.
The boy was placed on “intensive probation” and ordered to continue counseling.
Bumb told Villanueva’s aunt, who was in court, that he “will be with you for the foreseeable future.”–David Pugh