Autopsy inconclusive on fault in fatal shooting of 19-year-old

Posted Jan. 20, 2009, at 10:38 p.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — An autopsy determined that Tyler Emerson, 19, died of a single gunshot wound in a weekend incident that the state medical examiner’s office calls a homicide, which fails to address whether the 19-year-old’s death was accidental or intentional.

That ruling, an examiner’s office spokeswoman said Tuesday, likely will be deferred until state police finish their investigation of Emerson’s death.

No timeline is set. When they finish, investigators will report their findings to the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which will decide whether to seek arrests, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety on Tuesday.

No arrests can occur without a criminal court judge signing off on the charge.

A Maine Maritime Academy student and former Stearns High School baseball star, Emerson was shot in the cheek when the gun went off as he handed 19-year-old Jordan Manzo’s .40-caliber Glock handgun back to Manzo, McCausland has said.

The shooting occurred at the Manzo camp on North Twin Lake outside Millinocket early Sunday during an overnight snowmobiling jaunt.

After the shooting, Manzo, his twin brother, Jared, and their friend 18-year-old John Wyman, all of Millinocket, raced by snowmobiles and a vehicle to get Emerson to Millinocket Regional Hospital. Emerson was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly thereafter, state police said.

The autopsy occurred Monday. The Emerson family was briefed about its results Tuesday afternoon, the spokeswoman said.

With the police investigation ongoing, many details surrounding the shooting remain unclear, including to whom the handgun was registered and the circumstances that led up to the shooting.

Emerson’s brother, 27-year-old Josh Emerson of Millinocket, described the shooting as a tragedy for the Emerson, Manzo and Wyman families. He expressed the desire that police not charge anyone in connection with the shooting, which he said was clearly accidental.

Emerson’s funeral is set for 11 a.m. Thursday at Millinocket Baptist Church in Millinocket.

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