A 24-year-old man who told police he didn’t know that a gun was loaded when he pointed it at a 14-year-old acquaintance and pulled the trigger, killing the boy, has been no-billed by a Tarrant County grand jury.
Jose Mahugnos had been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of German Serrano.
On Friday, a Tarrant County grand jury declined to indict Mahugnos in the case, according to court records.
“Due to a thorough investigation by the Fort Worth Police Department, the grand jury was able to consider information from every eyewitness,” prosecutor Kelly Loftus said. “We appreciate the grand jurors’ conscientious evaluation of all the facts related to this tragic occurrence. Because grand jury proceedings are secret under the law, we cannot comment further.”
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Mahugnos was placed in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Monday, said Carl Rusnok, an ICE spokesman. Mahugnos spent the night in the Bedford city jail and on Tuesday he was deported to Mexico, Rusnok said.
Mahugnos and Serrano were among visitors at a house in the 3000 block of Hanger Avenue in east Fort Worth on Dec. 27 when the shooting occurred about 11:45 p.m.
Police have said Mahugnos had been intentionally pointing the gun at several individuals in the room that night.
Later, apparently unaware that the gun was loaded, Mahugnos grabbed it again, pointed it at Serrano and pulled the trigger, police said. Serrano was struck in the head.
Mahugnos, who fled, was later arrested by Fort Worth police on a manslaughter warrant.
Serrano died the next afternoon at John Peter Smith Hospital.
Jim Shaw, Mahugnos’ defense attorney, said that Serrano’s shooting was an “accident” and that his client was very remorseful.
Shaw said Serrano had brought the gun to the house that night, which he’d reportedly gotten from another youth, with the intent of selling it.
“They were all kind of drinking beer. My client said the clip was ejected from the gun and he assumed it was unloaded because it didn’t have the clip,” Shaw said. “The people in the room were kind of playing with it, pointing it at each other.”
Shaw said that when his client pulled the trigger and Serrano was struck in the head, Mahugnos “freaked out” and fled to his sister’s house.
“Everybody thought it was empty,” Shaw said. “Everybody was flashing it around and treating it like it was empty.”
Serrano’s sister said the boy’s family was very disappointed that Mahugnos would not be going to prison.
“My mom was crying,” said Flor Serrano, 18. “My mom said, ‘They might have done more if he had killed an animal.’
“How could they just close the case? He killed a person, even if it was an accident. He’s 24 years old; he should know more about guns, like when it was loaded.”