MONTAGUE — Michael Bryce Underwood, 17, was indicted on a charge of manslaughter Monday in connection with the shooting death of Guyer High School student-athlete Nathan Maki.
During a Sept. 3 news conference, Montague County Sheriff Paul Cunningham said Underwood accidentally shot Maki, 18, with a rifle during a Labor Day weekend camp out with some friends at Underwood’s family-owned property.
Maki was a senior fullback for the Wildcat’s football team this year.
Cunningham said the group of friends — including two 18-year-old women — were awaiting the opening of dove hunting season on the109-acre property situated in the 5900 block of Well Service Road.
According to a recently released search warrant, upon arrival of emergency personnel Aug. 31, an individual, later determined to be Maki, was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat of a white 2008 Chevrolet Crew Cab pickup. Underwood, according to the search warrant, told emergency responders that he and Maki were hunting and that he was outside the pickup taking aim at an animal when he discharged his weapon, accidentally shooting Maki.
Maki, officials said, was later pronounced dead at Bowie Memorial Hospital.
In a previous interview, Cunningham said Underwood pulled the trigger, but it was accidental. The weapon used, believed to be a.22-caliber semi-automatic rifle, was found at the scene. A shotgun was also found, the sheriff said.
At the time of the shooting, Underwood was arrested at the scene and charged with minor in consumption, a Class C misdemeanor. Several beer cans were found at the scene, officials said. Underwood paid a $500 bond and was released Sept. 1, Cunningham said.
Due to a large case load in the 97th District Court and being short on jury members, Underwood’s case was placed on hold last month, said Paige Williams, district attorney for Archer, Clay and Montague counties. The case was presented before a 12-member grand jury at the Montague County Courthouse on Monday afternoon. Manslaughter is a second-degree felony and carries a potential sentence of two to 20 years confinement and a fine not to exceed $10,000 if convicted.
Should the case proceed to trial, it would not be scheduled until fall of 2014, Williams said.
Williams said she urged Maki’s friends to remember him before they think of drinking.
“The lesson for everyone is simple. Introducing alcohol to any situation can affect not only your life but the lives of your friends and family,” she said.
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and viaTwitter at @MGrayNews.