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Mom calls for tougher charges for stepbrother in teen's shooting death

A police car is pictured at the site of an accidental shooting death in Kearns on Monday, March 18, 2019. A 16-year-old boy playing with a shotgun accidentally shot and killed himself inside his home.
FILE - A police car at the location of a self inflicted gunshot death in Kearns on Monday, March 18, 2019.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The mother of a 16-year-old boy who prosecutors say was shot and killed by his stepbrother criticized how police have handled the case Tuesday, saying her son's death should be considered murder.

Theresa Toledo said officers responding to the March death of her son Jerrad Jacobsen did not interview those in the Kearns home and did not return to ask questions until three days later. Investigators initially determined the shot was accidentally self-inflicted, court documents say, but Jerrad's stepbrother later told investigators he pulled the trigger when he thought the gun was unloaded. The Deseret News is not naming the teen at this time.

"Even if they thought my son did shoot himself, they can't be 100 percent sure, obviously, because we found out that he didn't accidentally shoot himself, you know? And the cops should investigate," Toledo said. "It just feels like they're not doing nothing, they're not doing enough, but maybe it's just because they can't tell me much right now. Nothing's ever going to be enough."

Two days after Jerrad's death, his stepbrother attended a vigil for him, where Toledo embraced him as she wept, unaware that he had fired the fatal shot, she recalled Tuesday. In a brief court hearing earlier in the day, she urged a judge to keep the teen in detention as the case plays out.

Unified Police Sgt. Melody Gray said Toledo's account of the investigation is not accurate but declined to elaborate, deferring to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

A man runs to the site of accidental shooting death in Kearns on Monday, March 18, 2019. A 16-year-old boy playing with a shotgun accidentally shot and killed himself inside his home.
FILE - A man runs to the location of a self inflicted gunshot death in Kearns on Monday, March 18, 2019.
Silas Walker, Deseret News

Gill would not clarify the timeline, saying it ultimately did not affect the criminal charges. He emphasized the boy reported believing the gun was unloaded.

"Based on the evidence we had, we felt more comfortable we could meet our burden of manslaughter, but we wouldn't be able to met our burden of a knowing and intentional killing," Gill said.

Police were called to 5007 W. 5400 South on March 18 to find Jerrad dead in a bedroom. His stepbrother is accused of first telling officers he turned away before hearing the gun go off, but later admitting he had fired the shot. The teen has denied a charge of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, and obstructing justice, a third-degree felony.

Jerrad, who attended Granger High School, loved playing football and hanging out with his pitbull mix, Rosko, Toledo said. He had recently started to put together his own rap songs and idolized the rapper Roddy Rich, and also Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed in Los Angeles in March.

The two boys had not been arguing at the time of his death, Toledo said, but she believes the killing was planned.

"You don't accidentally shoot somebody in the back of the head," she continued. "You don't wait until your back is turned and shoot them in the back of the head and clean yourself up, change your clothes and then wake everybody up calmly saying my son accidentally shot himself."

Third District Juvenile Judge Susan Eisenman ordered the teen to remain in detention ahead of a May 13 hearing. He faces an additional charge of damaging a jail, a third-degree felony, stemming from an incident prosecutors say happened on March 25.