The jury in Westmoreland County rejected prosecutors’ arguments that Maxwell Morton, 16 at the time, intentionally killed 16-year-old Ryan Mangan in February of 2015.
Morton testified earlier Thursday that the teens were playing with a handgun in Mangan’s Jeannette home when he pointed it at his friend and pulled the trigger, believing it was not loaded.
The defendant said that he and his friend were pretending to be rappers when he noticed a lump in a pillowcase, according to WTAE. It was then that Mangan displayed the gun.
If Morton had immediately called for help after the shooting, Mangan may have survived, forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht testified, according to the station.
In the selfie, Morton can be seen smiling next to Mangan. He sent the photo to someone in another state using Snapchat.
Morton says he took the selfie to document what happened before he had planned to kill himself. He testified that people think that he’s a monster, but that he’s actually a “chill kind of guy.”
The gruesome picture Morton posted on Snapchat and sent to ather friend of theirs shows the victim sitting in a chair with the gunshot wound in the face, the suspect positioned his face in front of the dead body for the photo. According to a CBS Pittsburgh report, the name “Maxwell” was written on top of the picture,.
The criminal complaint alleges that the mother of the third boy says her son received a Snapchat photo from Morton, which shows Morton in the photo with the victim after he had been shot in the face. The criminal complaint describes it as a “selfie.” The photo apparently also had the name “MAXWELL” written across the top.
Police also said the third boy received text messages from Morton saying, “Told you I cleaned up the shells” and “Ryan was not the last one.”
Maxwell Morton was convicted of third-degree murder, Thursday in Jan 2015 shooting of his high school classmate Ryan Mangan
The allegedly incriminating selfie was posted by Morton on the social media site Snapchat.
The pictures are supposed to disappear within seconds, but the recipient of the deranged picture saved it and sent it to police.
Investigators found a discharged 9 mm casing in victim’s bedroom. Morton confessed to killing Mangan after police searched his home two days later and found a 9 mm handgun hidden under the basement steps. Morton was charged as an adult, faced charges of first-degree murder, homicide and possession of a firearm by a minor.
“It was a difficult case because of what he did afterwards, in terms of the selfie and all of the other stuff,” Morton’s lawyer Pat Thomassey told WTAE. “I give the jury credit. I think they came to a reasonable conclusion based upon all of the evidence they saw.”
Morton, who had been charged with first degree murder, criminal homicide and possession of a firearm by a minor, avoided a first-degree murder conviction. He still faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. Morton was charged as an adult, faced charges of first-degree murder, homicide and possession of a firearm by a minor