A 15-year-old Ceres boy is being charged as an adult in the shooting death of a 56-year-old transient.
The district attorney’s office has filed a murder charge in Stanislaus County Superior Court against Carlos Mateo in the July 11 shooting, which police say ended an argument about how much noise Mateo and his brother were making when they came home.
Mateo’s 18-year-old brother, Reynaldo, has been charged with felony accessory and the misdemeanors of providing false information to police and obstructing police.
The shooting took place in the living room of a home in the 3000 block of Fifth Street in Ceres, where police say the brothers had been living for a month or two, though their family lives elsewhere in Ceres.
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Mike Chandler was sleeping on a living room couch when the Mateo brothers came home about 2:30 a.m. Police say Chandler argued with the brothers about how much noise they were making. A bullet above Chandler’s right eye ended the dispute.
Mike Guptin, 18, has said he has lived in the Fifth Street home by himself for about a year. He said his mother owns the home.He said he knew Chandler through his mother and knows the Mateo brothers. Guptin said that about two hours before the shooting, Chandler knocked on the front door and asked if he could spend the night.
Guptin said he was asleep in a back bedroom and did not hear the later argument or gunshot.
Detective Sgt. James Robbins said police are looking into how the brothers came to live at the Fifth Street home and whether their parents can be charged with child abandonment.
“That’s still under investigation,” he said Monday. “We are not done with that case yet.”
But he said that investigation could be more difficult now that police know Reynaldo Mateo is not a minor. Police believed he was 17 when they arrested him.
Robbins said an argument could be made that Reynaldo Mateo was old enough to be responsible for his younger brother. The Mateo family declined to comment Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said Carlos Mateo faces 25 years to life in prison if he is convicted of first-degree murder. Mateo is scheduled to be back in court Aug. 23 to continue his arraignment. He is being held at Juvenile Hall.
Prosecutors in California have the discretion to charge juveniles as adults and bypass a “fitness hearing” in juvenile court in which a judge would decide whether a juvenile should be charged as an adult.