A Santa Fe teen accused of fatally shooting his mother’s boyfriend in April won’t serve prison time but could be sentenced to juvenile detention in the case, prosecutors said Thursday.
Following a grand jury’s decision in late May to reduce a second-degree murder charge against 16-year-old Hunter Woods to a count of voluntary manslaughter, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Padgett said prosecutors can no longer move forward with an effort to seek an adult sentence for the boy, due to state law on the lesser charge.
“We could not proceed with the case under the youthful offender status,” Padgett said, referring to the process of charging a juvenile as an adult.
At a brief hearing Thursday in the state’s First Judicial District Court in Santa Fe, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Woods and refiled the case in juvenile court.
Woods is accused of shooting Ricardo Magana, 39, just after midnight April 29.
Records show Woods’ mother called 911 to report that Magana, her boyfriend, had tried to attack her with a bat inside their Lorca Drive apartment and that her son had intervened with a shotgun. Woods first fired a warning shot, the woman later told Santa Fe police, and then shot Magana in the abdomen.
Magana died from his injuries nearly three weeks later.
Immediately after the shooting, Woods fled in his mother’s car and wasn’t found by police until May 7.
After Magana died, the District Attorney’s Office initially charged Woods with second-degree murder, tampering with evidence and unlawful possession of a handgun. A grand jury downgraded the murder charge to voluntary manslaughter May 30.
Woods still faces the firearm charge and count of tampering with evidence as the case proceeds through juvenile court at a faster pace.
A pretrial hearing is scheduled for June 26, and a trial is scheduled for Aug. 28.
Voluntary manslaughter is described as a killing done “without malice … upon a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion.”
The charge of tampering with evidence stems from Woods allegedly taking the shotgun he had fired at Magana from his home when he fled. The firearm charge is tied to a Ruger .380-caliber handgun police found in the car he had been riding in when he was arrested.
By law, the most time Woods could face if he is found guilty of voluntary manslaughter is two years in a juvenile facility, Padgett said.
Woods’ attorney, Keren Fenderson, declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Woods remains in custody in a juvenile detention center in Santa Fe.
Police also suspect Woods was involved in two shootings on Santa Fe’s south side May 1, during the time he was eluding officers’ efforts to find him, but he has not been charged in those incidents. Police have said they are still gathering evidence in the cases. No one was injured in either of the two shootings.