- Associated Press - Thursday, April 2, 2015

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) - A 16-year-old Pennsylvania boy who fatally shot a friend in the face and then took a selfie with the victim’s body has been ordered to stand trial on criminal homicide and firearms charges.

Maxwell Morton did kill 16-year-old Ryan Mangan at Mangan’s home Feb. 4, but he didn’t intend to, defense attorney Patrick Thomassey said.

The boys were horsing around with a loaded gun that was in Mangan’s house when he was shot, Thomassey said after Wednesday’s preliminary hearing. A police officer testified that Morton was trying to take a picture of Mangan with the cellphone aimed down the barrel of the gun before pulling the trigger.

“My client said, ‘I just pulled the trigger and I didn’t care,’” Thomassey said, referring to a statement Morton gave police. “I’m not sure what it means.”

Westmoreland County prosecutors contend it means Morton purposely shot Mangan and should be convicted of first-degree murder, which carries an automatic prison term of life without parole.

That’s based in part on another text Morton sent saying he “got his first body,” County Detective Robert Weaver testified.

But Thomassey said the shooting didn’t involve malice or premeditation, which would take it out of the realm of first- or third-degree murder and make Morton guilty of manslaughter, a far less serious crime.

Thomassey said Morton, of Jeannette, panicked and took the selfie to send to a friend as “proof” after Morton texted the friend about the shooting while they were playing a video game over an Internet connection.

Police said Morton and Manan had been listening to music, dancing and playing with the gun in the minutes before the shooting.

“My client was on the Xbox with people in another state when this happened,” Thomassey said. “He texted them and said he can’t believe what happened.”

The selfie, which had the name “MAXWELL” texted across the top, showed Mangan shot in the face behind Morton. The Xbox player who received it in Wisconsin contacted police the day after the shooting.

“There’s no explanation for it,” Thomassey said. “There was no animus between these two. There was no reason for this.”

Morton remains jailed without bond pending trial.

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