REHOBOTH — A local teen who accidentally shot and killed his friend last year in Dighton has been sentenced to 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 years in prison.
Joseph Medeiros, 19, pleaded guilty Friday in Fall River Superior Court to manslaughter and weapons charges, Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn said.
Judge William Sullivan also sentenced Medeiros to five years probation after he completes his time in prison, along with 170 hours of community service.
Medeiros was among a group of friends gathered at the 475 Forest St. home of 17-year-old Michael Pacheco on June 26 of last year while Pacheco’s parents were out of state.
Medeiros was handling a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun at the kitchen table when the weapon went off, striking Pacheco in the chest, according to the district attorney’s office.
Medeiros fled the house before police and firefighters arrived but later turned himself in.
“The investigation revealed that the shooter and the victim were close friends and that no animosity was displayed between the two young men,” Quinn said Monday in a statement.
Pacheco was a student at Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School. Medeiros was a former classmate who graduated a month earlier.
In addition to manslaughter, Medeiros pleaded guilty to indictments charging him with unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm.
“This is a tragedy for all of the parties involved, in particular the victim and his family,” Quinn said. “The bottom line is that if this defendant did not possess an illegal firearm, this would not have happened.”
Medeiros’s lawyer, Frank Camera of Fall River, said as an attorney for over 20 years “it ranks among the most heartbreaking cases that I’ve ever heard.”
Camera said his client apologized “from the heart” to Pacheco’s family and told them that although he did not know the pain of the loss of a son he knew something about grief after losing his father to suicide.
“He told them that this is something he’s going to have to live with for the rest of his life,” Camera said.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Robert Digiantomaso.