Tablet Local

Sanger teen receives probation in accidental shooting death of friend

A, 18-year-old Sanger youth was sentenced to five years’ probation Monday after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide for the fatal shooting of a friend during a hunting outing in August.

Under added probation terms, Michael Bryce Underwood must finish high school and speak at a gun safety class within the year, according to Paige Williams, Montague County district attorney.

If he violates his probation, Underwood will be sentenced to two years in a state jail.

Underwood, then 17, had been out with his friend, 18-year-old Nate Maki, and two females about 55 miles northwest of Denton when the shooting occurred late Aug. 31.

“I just accidentally shot my best friend,” a crying Underwood told 911 dispatchers. “We’re at my grandpa’s ranch in Bowie. We were hunting coyotes. I accidentally shot him with a .22 in the head.”

Maki, a popular Denton Guyer football running back, was taken to Bowie Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Underwood was initially arrested at the scene on suspicion of consumption of alcohol by a minor, and later released on bail.

“This is a tragedy for all involved,” Williams had previously said after a grand jury indicted Underwood in October on a manslaughter charge in the case. “The lesson for everyone is simple: Introducing alcohol into any situation can affect not only your life, but the lives of your friends and family. Nathan’s friends need to remember him before they think of consuming alcohol.”

Judge Vicki Issacks from Denton presided over the hearing, Williams said.