Youthful offender status denied for Marshall County teen charged in accidental shooting death of 15-year-old

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Jason Richards

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — A Marshall County judge denied a youthful offender status request for a teen charged in the death of 15-year-old Jason Richards.

Ryan Anthony Fitch was 18 at the time of his friend’s July 2015 accidental shooting death. He is charged with criminally negligent homicide among other related charges.

Monday at the youthful offender hearing the prosecution presented a report and the defense offered several witnesses. At the end the judge denied it, but did not give a specific reason.

Richards was killed last year in Albertville.

Fitch and another male juvenile are implicated this case.  Fitch is charged with abuse of a corpse, a felony, criminally negligent homicide and tampering with physical evidence, both misdemeanors.

Ryan Anthony Fitch, 18, is charged in Jason Richards' death. (Photo: Marshall County Jail)

Ryan Anthony Fitch, 18, is charged in Jason Richards’ death. (Photo: Marshall County Jail)

Police said Fitch and the other suspect were Richards ‘s friends and that the gunshot that killed him was not an intentional act.  During the investigation, police say they discovered Richards died of a single gunshot wound to the head, which occurred at a home on Miller Street in Albertville on the night of his initial disappearance, February 8.

“The investigation uncovered that the gunshot was not an intentional act, but an unintentional discharge of a .25 caliber handgun by Fitch that caused the death of Richards,” Chief Pollard said, “They were actually in there with a gun, a loaded gun, handing it around and it went off.”

Police say after Richards was shot, Fitch and the juvenile panicked.  They didn’t call for help, but instead took Richards’ body and dumped him in Langston on Lois Lane.  His body was found in May.

“The charges stem from the acts by Fitch and his accomplice during the moments immediately following the shooting and not the act in and of itself,” police said.

Fitch’s next court date has not been released.