14-year-old charged with murder
A 14-year-old boy faces murder and other charges in the fatal stabbing of a 24-year-old Central Point man during what police called a gang-related fight Sept. 15.
A juvenile delinquency petition charging Mauricio Humberto Teran, 14, of Talent, with murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter, first-, second- and third-degree assault, riot and disorderly conduct was filed with Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday, officials said.
Jackson County District Attorney Mark Huddleston said he couldn't remember any other defendant this young being charged with murder in the county.
The violent altercation on Sept. 15 outside an apartment building in the 600 block of Beatty Street in Medford that left Marco Antonio Diaz dead happened just one day after Teran turned 14. He was arrested on riot and disorderly conduct charges two days later and has been in custody since then.
He was the youngest of six people investigators suspect were involved in brutal fighting during a riotous clash between two groups with possible gang affiliations.
"All those who were fighting have been charged with felony assault," Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe said. "All the participants face serious consequences."
In addition to the charges filed against Teran, Hoppe said first-, second-, and third-degree assault charges have been filed against another 14-year-old, Juan Gonzalez-Marquez. Three adults — 19-year-old Guibran Ramirez, 18-year-old Sergio Meza, and 18-year-old Lucas Benjamin Molina — face first- and second-degree assault charges linked to the altercation.
The incident on Sept. 15 erupted after a day of shouted threats and gang slogans, neighbors said.
Yelling, squealing tires of a vehicle peeling out of a parking lot, and people tussling, running and crashing around in the darkness rattled the neighborhood shortly before 8 p.m. and left Diaz lying in a parking lot, beaten, stabbed and struggling to breathe. Paramedics rushed him to Rogue Valley Medical Center, where he died around 11:30 p.m.
Molina was taken to Providence Medford Medical Center by friends with stab wounds and hospitalized for two days. Ramirez also suffered minor knife wounds that didn't require treatment, police said.
Police arrested more than a dozen young men in the days following the fight and a vandalism attack on a parked car at the same apartment complex the next night.
With everyone suspected of being involved in the incidents in custody, detectives, school resource officers and the gang and street drugs unit carefully tracked leads and conducted numerous interviews to unravel the details, Medford police Detective Sgt. Mike Budreau said. Forensic teams examined physical evidence.
"It was a very deliberate investigation," Hoppe said. "We were sure everyone was in custody."
Investigators suspect Meza of knifing both Molina and Ramirez. Ramirez and Gonzalez-Marquez are suspected of kicking and punching Diaz, investigators said.
Hoppe said that the charges against Teran reflect two separate episodes of violence during the riot. The murder and manslaughter charges are linked to the stabbing that ultimately killed Diaz, while the assault charges are linked to other conduct that seriously injured Diaz.
Filing murder and two types of manslaughter charges is an effort to cover a variety of mental states the teen might have been in, Hoppe explained. Murder would apply if Teran were found to have intentionally killed Diaz. First-degree manslaughter would apply if he were found to have acted recklessly with extreme indifference to life, while second-degree manslaughter would apply if he were found to have acted recklessly.
Teran is set to be arraigned on the charges today, Hoppe said.
Now that a murder charge has been filed, prosecutors can seek to move the case to adult court or continue in the juvenile justice system, he said. He declined to discuss what the next step would be.
Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.