A Salina area teen who shot and killed his 9-year-old step brother back in 2010 has received the maximum possible sentence. 18-year-old Ryan Velez, who was 14-years-old when he shot and killed 9-year-old Kaden Harper in June of 2010 at their rural Saline County home near Assaria, was sentenced in Saline County District Court Tuesday afternoon.
Velez was charged as an adult, and initially charged with first degree murder in the case. In 2011 he plead guilty to a second degree murder charge. He was sent to the state psychiatric hospital in Larned.
Velez’s attorney Mitch Christians Tuesday afternoon argued for a departure from the presumptive sentence. He argued that Velez has serious mental conditions that need treatment. Velez has been diagnosed be several doctors for conditions that include Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and most recently was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism.
Saline County Attorney Ellen Mitchell contended that Velez fully knew, and understood, what he was doing when he shot Kaden. She said that he has shown no remorse and has even bragged about his crime to others he is incarcerated with, while refusing to discuss it with doctors.
Kaden was shot while the two boys were home alone. Velez first said that a snake entered the house, and that he accidentally shot Kaden while trying to shoot the snake. He then changed the story, saying he was trying to scare Kaden with the gun when it accidentally went off. Velez then changed the story again, saying that he was mad at Kaden for calling him names and let his anger take over.
Velez’s step father and his mother each spoke. Both said that they believed he needed to be in prison.
Judge Patrick Thompson agreed that Velez does need mental treatment. But he noted the lack of remorse and the bragging about the crime saying “throughout there has been a pattern of problematic behavior and a lack of remorse that is troubling”. The Judge went on to say that Velez poses a serious threat to the safety of the public as he gave him the maximum possible sentence, 123 months in prison.
Velez, who has been in custody since June 1st, 2010, will receive credit for time served. He could be eligible for release in 2020.