13-year-old sentenced to 12 years in prison for fatal shooting of Sonic employee

A 13-year-old boy who shot and killed a Sonic Drive-In employee in Texas earlier this year has been sentenced to 12 years of incarceration for murder.

The boy was just 12 when he gunned down Matthew Davis, 32, with an AR-style rifle in May as the father of two scuffled with the boy’s uncle. The teen later told a friend that he was supposed to shoot at the ground but accidentally shot Davis instead, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported earlier this month. Davis died at a hospital a few hours later.

The boy was arrested soon afterward, as was his uncle, 20-year-old Angel Gomez. The child’s aunt, 18-year-old Ashley Gomez, was arrested earlier this month and charged with manslaughter after admitting that she handed the boy the gun as Davis scuffled with Angel, her husband.

The altercation took place in the parking lot of a Sonic in Keene, Texas, about 40 miles southwest of Dallas. Cops responded to a call around 9:40 p.m. on May 13 to find Davis lying in the restaurant’s parking lot riddled with bullets. Police told the Daily News at the time that the youth had fired six rounds.

A witness who worked with Davis told the Star-Telegram that a lifted red pickup truck had pulled up to the drive-through speaker box but no one had pushed the button to order. The employee went outside to see what was happening and found a man peeing in the parking lot. When he ignored her request to stop, Davis intervened.

Ashley Gomez later told police that she had handed her nephew the gun as the two men got physical and told him to “go.” She said she only “meant for him to go out and stop the fight by scaring the guy,” according to the arrest affidavit obtained by the Star-Telegram.

The 13-year-old’s sentence came down Tuesday after days of evidentiary hearings over what constituted appropriate punishment for a minor convicted of murder, which is rare. He will start out within the Texas Juvenile Justice Department and could be transferred later to the state’s adult prison system.

A jury in October found that the boy had engaged in delinquent conduct, which is the juvenile version of a guilty verdict. His sentence could have ranged from probation to 40 years behind bars.

With News Wire Services