A Pennsylvania teen accused of fatally shooting his friend and taking a selfie next to him was recently found guilty of third-degree murder.
According to the New York Daily News, the Westmoreland County jury rejected prosecutors’ arguments that Maxwell Morton, 16 at the time, intentionally killed 16-year-old Ryan Mangan in February of 2015. Morton testified that the two were playing with a handgun while they were pretending to be rappers. Not knowing the gun was loaded, Morton said he pointed it toward his friend and pulled the trigger, which struck Mangan in the face.
He also claims that he took a smiling selfie with Mangan after he decided that he was going to kill himself. Soon after he snapped the pic, he sent it via Snapchat to a friend in another state, WTAE reported.
“I panicked. I had never seen anything like that before. I had never seen someone die like that. At first I ran out, then ran back in there and saw him lying there,” Morton said.
“I wanted to tell somebody, but at that time I felt empty and had no regards for life. I had no reason to be. I was going to kill myself.”
However, forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified for the prosecution that Morton didn’t have to kill himself—if he would have called 911, Mangan could have lived. Instead, Morton ran from the scene, leaving his friend to die.
Clearly there are people who believe that Morton is a “monster,” but he testified that he’s actually a “chill kind of guy,” the Daily News noted. Whatever the case, the jury didn’t believe that this incident was first-degree murder, which was what he was originally charged with.
“It was a difficult case because of what he did afterwards, in terms of the selfie and all of the other stuff,” Morton’s lawyer Pat Thomassey told WTAE after the verdict came down.
“I give the jury credit. I think they came to a reasonable conclusion based upon all of the evidence they saw.”
Even with a lesser charge, Morton still faces up to 40 years in prison for third-degree murder. He will be sentenced in May.