- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A 16-year-old boy accused of fatally shooting a young man in the head at point-blank range as he begged for his life likened the situation to putting down an injured deer, a police detective testified Wednesday.

Cheyenne Police Detective James Harper related his interrogation of Phillip Sam during a preliminary hearing on charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault.

Circuit Court Judge Thomas Lee says he heard enough evidence against the Cheyenne teen to move the case to a higher court so he could stand trial as an adult.

Sam, who attended the hearing dressed in tan and blue clothing and orange shoes, remains in the juvenile detention center with bail of $250,000 cash.

Police say 19-year-old Tyler Burns died a day after being shot in the early morning hours of Oct. 5 near a city park.

Under questioning from prosecutor Monique Meese, Harper said Sam fired at least 14 shots from a handgun at a group of teens that showed up for a prearranged fight between Sam and another juvenile.

Harper testified that another boy believed Sam had vandalized his vehicle, and the two agreed to meet at a park to fight. Sam told detectives he got a .40-caliber gun from his mother’s boyfriend without permission and brought it to the park because he was scared of being attacked by a large group, court records said.

Sam went to the park with one friend, Harper said. The teen Sam had arranged to fight was accompanied by 11 others, including Burns, he said.

Harper said Sam fired without warning into the group of teens shortly after 1 a.m.

Sam told police he opened fired because “he didn’t want to get jumped” by the other group, Harper said.

One shot hit Burns, who fell to the ground, and another teen was grazed on the arm. All but Burns ran away, Harper said.

Witnesses say Sam went up to Burns and shot him at least two more times, Harper said.

Some witnesses told police that Burns begged Sam not to shoot him again, the detective said.

Under questioning after his arrest, Sam said he wanted to finish what he started and didn’t want Burns to suffer, Harper said.

Harper said he asked Sam if he equated the situation to shooting an injured deer.

Harper said Sam replied: “That’s about right.”

Harper said police found a couple of knives near the scene.

Under questioning from Sam’s court-appointed defense attorney, Melody Anchietta, Harper testified that police did not seek permission from Sam’s parents before questioning him and that Sam’s parents were not present when police arrested and questioned him.

Harper also said Sam spoke of a threat being made against him by one of the other teens before the encounter but did not provide specifics to police.

Sam will have a chance to enter a plea during his arraignment in District Court. A date has not been set.

Lee denied requests by Anchietta to close the preliminary hearing and seal all court files in the case.

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