Teen pleads guilty to murdering grandmother

Local News

A teenager charged with the death of his grandmother admits to the crime in court. 

Nearly 2.5 years after a 14-year-old shot a gun at his grandmother, the defendant is now taking responsibility for what happened. Today, 16-year-old Hunter Reeser pleaded guilty but mentally ill to third-degree murder.  

Investigators say the defendant shot and killed 60-year-old Sandra Orton on August 23rd of 2016.  Even though Reeser was just 14-years-old at the time, the judge determined he would be tried as an adult.

Experts say Reeser was living with severe mental illness and may have not been treated effectively.

In a taped interview with police, the defendant said he shot Orton because he didn’t want to go to school for a meeting.

That interview, however, would not have been viable in trial.  A judge tossed the confession because Orton’s husband was in the room.  

The defense and prosecution are recommending a minimum sentence of seven or ten years, and a maximum of 20 years. 

Defense Attorney James Pitonyak says, “There was a lot of physical evidence and evidence from witnesses relative to this matter, so we didn’t want to run the risk of going to trial here and having him convicted of first-degree murder because that would’ve been a life sentence for him.” 

Assistant District Attorney Paul Sellers says, “Any time you have a case with a juvenile, it’s a difficult case because you have to go through that whole de-certification process. In this case, there’s a lot of specifics related to Mr. Reeser and just the lengthy psychiatric history he’s had; going all the way back to one and a half years old.” 

Reeser is scheduled to be sentenced on March 7th.

Reeser’s family members did not want to go on camera, but I did speak to a few of them after the hearing; one telling me they stand behind Hunter and support him.

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