DENVER — Teenagers were shot in two separate cases while trying to steal marijuana from backyards.
A man in one of those cases is facing felony murder charges. In the other, no charges will be filed.
Colorado’s “Make My Day” law protects residents who take action when they feel their life is in danger after someone has broken into their home. Defending property is a much harder case to sell.
“Unfortunately, he was at the wrong place, wrong time, doing the wrong thing. But then again, he was still a child,” said Karl Hawkins, the uncle of 15-year old Keylin Mosley. “He was a child that was loved.”
Mosley was shot and killed nearly two weeks ago by 48-year old Kenneth Hammock, police said.
“He was intending to do harm, he was intending to kill,” Hawkins said of Hammock.
According to court documents, Mosley and his 14-year old friend jumped Hammock’s fence to get into his marijuana-filled backyard. But before they made it out, police said Hammock fired rounds from his second-story window hitting both kids.
“He had visual eye contact as he held that gun. He knew they were children. … His house was not in jeopardy, his life was not in jeopardy, he wasn’t in jeopardy,” Hawkins said.
And that’s why the Denver District Attorney’s Office filed eight felony charges against Hammock, including first-degree murder and four counts of attempted murder.
“It would be difficult to say that that person was in fear of their life or serious bodily injury when they are in a second story window pointing a rifle down,” Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said.
This one isn’t Young’s case, but last month police handed him a similar investigation involving a 17-year old attempting to steal marijuana from a home near 76th Avenue and Pecos Street.
“These are the most difficult decisions I have to make as a DA,” Young said.
In this case, the teen was shot and killed after a face-to-face confrontation with the homeowner.
“I wanted to find a way to charge this man for first-degree murder because I think it’s wrong, but I also have to follow the law,” Young said.
Young said he didn’t file charges because he can’t disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
“So those facts are separate and different and unique from the facts that we have to deal with in our case,” he said of why the cases are different.
In the Denver case, Hammock is also being charged for growing marijuana. Prosecutors said he had more than the six plants allowed by law.
The family of Keylin Mosley has set up a GoFundMe to help with expenses. Mosley’s funeral services are on Friday.