Accused in Iowa high school shooting takes plea deal

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — One of 10 teenagers charged with murder in the shooting death of a 15-year-old boy outside a downtown Des Moines high school in March has reached a plea deal with prosecutors and a second is considering advocacy.

Court documents say Manuel Buezo, 17, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and two counts of willful injury on Wednesday.

Judge Scott Rosenberg ordered sentencing for May 30. The plea agreement says prosecutors have agreed to seek a sentence of up to 50 years in prison with all but 20 years suspended.

Buezo remains in jail awaiting sentencing. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a message on Friday.

A second teenager, Kevin Martinez, 16, was due to appear at a plea hearing on Friday. His attorney declined to comment, and details of the hearing were not immediately available in Iowa’s online court records. Court documents, however, said he agreed to amend the charges to two counts of intimidation with a weapon, crimes punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

There were 10 minors aboard three moving vehicles and at least six firearms from which more than 42 bullets were fired in the March 7 shooting, Des Moines police said.

Eight of the defendants were charged as adults with first degree murder and other crimes while the other two were committed to juvenile court.

Jose Lopez, his sister, a friend of hers and two other young people were standing near a sidewalk outside Des Moines East High School talking when two cars and a pickup truck sped past and the occupants threw a hail of gunfire hitting Lopez, his sister. and her friend. Lopez, 15, died and both girls were seriously injured.

The defendants were between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of the shooting. Those 16 or older have been charged as adults under an Iowa law that automatically transfers cases involving youths 16 or older charged with a crime forcibly to adult court . Adults in Iowa face life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. However, courts in Iowa have said that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. Some of the defendants requested that a judge refer their case to juvenile court. But they were denied.

Two others, aged 14 and 15 at the time of the shooting, remain in juvenile court. Their convictions would likely only keep them in custody until their 18th birthday if they are tried and convicted as minors.

Gumaro Marquez-Jacobo, Braulio Hernandez-Salas and Kevin Martinez are due to stand trial on October 17 in Des Moines. Martinez will not go to trial if he accepts a plea deal.

Octavio Lopez, Henry Valladares Amaya and Daniel Hernandez have trial dates set for March 6.

A judge recently set Romeo Perdomo’s trial date for April 10.

A document filed by Polk County Assistant District Attorney James Hathaway in July says prosecutors chose to split the defendants into separate trials “to reduce the complexity and logistical difficulties in this case.”

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