No manslaughter charge for Millinocket teen

Posted March 26, 2009, at 4:01 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 11 a.m.

INDIAN PURCHASE 4 – A 19-year-old Millinocket man should not face homicide charges for the death of a Maine Maritime Academy student shot in the face at a North Twin Lake camp about two months ago, state’s Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Thursday.

Though he had been drinking and his handling of his .40-caliber Glock handgun was somewhat questionable, Jordan Manzo legally owned the weapon and nothing he did with it when he accidentally shot Tyler Emerson on Jan. 18 warranted a manslaughter charge, the most likely crime committed, Stokes said.

No horseplay was involved in the weapon’s handling; and the three remaining witnesses swore that Manzo had taken steps to ensure that the gun was safe just before the incident.

“The whole issue for us is how did that round get chambered. We don’t know,” Stokes said Thursday. “We’re guessing, and part of the problem in my line of work is that you can’t guess. We can speculate what happened, but I really shouldn’t be speculating about something or base a criminal charge on speculation. I can’t do that. I shouldn’t do it.”

Emerson, 19, of Millinocket, was shot in the cheek when Manzo’s handgun went off as Emerson handed it to Manzo, state police have said. The shooting occurred at the Manzo camp outside Millinocket during an overnight snowmobiling trip.

After the shooting, Manzo, his twin brother, Jared, and their friend John Wyman, 18, 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.

Issued in a four-page letter to state police Detective Darryl Peary dated March 19, Stokes’ ruling leaves open the possibility that the Manzos and Wyman could face other, lesser criminal charges in connection with the incident, such as for underage drinking, Stokes said.

The three were drinking beer that night but they were not legally intoxicated. Blood-alcohol content evaluations of the four teens taken at 4 a.m., within four hours of the incident, showed that Jordan Manzo had a reading of .04; Tyler, .038; Jared, .002. Wyman had no alcohol in his bloodstream, Stokes’ letter said.

In Maine, legal intoxication occurs at .08.

As an attorney general, Stokes is charged only with reviewing cases to see whether the application of murder or related homicide charges is warranted. He will send a copy to Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy for review, he said.

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