SAN ANTONIO – After three hours of deliberating Monday, a jury decided that Ryan Rodriguez, 20, was guilty of criminally negligent homicide, and not manslaughter, in the death of a 14-year-old girl.
Melody Cerros was shot once in the back of the head during a party on the night of June 28, 2016.
Rodriguez, who was 19 years old at the time, was holding a Glock pistol that was handed to him by another teen, according to trial testimony. He claimed that the gun fired accidentally as he racked back the slide.
Witnesses told police that Rodriguez aimed the gun in the girl's direction and pulled the trigger.
"To take a firearm and rack back the slide, to point it at someone and pull the trigger is an incredibly unjustifiable risk that Ryan took," prosecutor Lauren Glasscock told the jury during closing arguments. "He knew better that to do what he did that night."
Rodriguez's lawyer argued that the shooting was a tragic accident.
"He's told going in that the gun was unloaded," defense attorney Raymond Martine told jurors. "Should Ryan have done a more thorough investigation to confirm that? We can talk about that."
Criminally negligent homicide is a state jail felony and carries a punishment range of from six months to two years in state jail.
If Rodriguez had been found guilty on the more serious charge, he would faced punishment from 2-20 years in prison.