TEEN ADMITS ACCIDENTAL SLAYING

BRENDAN LYONS Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: B1

Date: Thursday, March 11, 1999

A Duanesburg youth admitted in Family Court Wednesday he accidentally killed his 10-year-old friend while the two examined a gun they had found on the way home from school. In a flat, steady voice, 16-year-old Scott O'Malley spoke publicly for the first time about how he shot Roarke Wooding as Wooding sat on the basement steps of O'Malley's Mudge Road home in Duanesburg last September. O'Malley and Wooding, a sixth-grader, often played together and rode the same school bus.


By pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide, O'Malley could be sentenced to probation or placed in a youth detention facility until he is 21 years old. A hearing is scheduled for April 20.


``Although I was not aiming the gun at Roarke, the gun was pointing at him while I had my finger on the trigger,'' O'Malley read from a three-page statement in Judge Vincent J. Reilly Jr.'s courtroom. ``I don't remember how I pulled the trigger -- whether I was trying to look at something else on the gun or was pulling it away so we could go upstairs -- but obviously I did. I did not pull the trigger with the intention of hurting Roarke.''


Last month, a Schenectady County grand jury declined to indict O'Malley, a Schalmont High sophomore. The grand jury concluded there was insufficient evidence to charge that O'Malley deliberately shot Wooding, District Attorney Robert Carney said.


O'Malley was 15 at the time of the shooting and could have been tried as an adult if the grand jury indicted him on intentional murder, depraved-mind murder, or first-degree manslaughter.


O'Malley's lawyer, Michael L. Koenig, said it was the teen's decision to plead guilty.


Wooding was shot once in the head with a .40-caliber semiautomatic handgun that O'Malley allegedly found on the side of Mudge Road while walking home from his school bus stop. The gun belonged to an officer with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.


Wooding's father, Richard, sat across the courtroom facing O'Malley's parents as the teen retraced how the boys, who lived two doors apart, found the gun in a neighbor's driveway and tried unsuccessfully several times to fire it and remove the ammunition clip. Wooding was shot two days later, on Sept. 16, when he asked to see the gun and O'Malley went into his basement to retrieve it, O'Malley said.


After the shooting, O'Malley dragged the boy outside the house to a clearing about 60 feet away, cleaned up some of the blood inside and called 911 at 3:19 p.m, authorities said. Wooding died on the scene shortly after paramedics arrived.


Outside the courtroom, Richard Wooding choked back tears as he said he had reservations about his son playing with the older child. He was not surprised that O'Malley did not apologize in his statement Wednesday or failed to mention that he dragged his son's body outside after the shooting and delayed calling for help.


``To me, you'd have to make a conscious effort to do this,'' Wooding said. ``They take this incident (the shooting) as a checkmark in the process . . . of the events that led up to the shooting.''


Koenig said Wednesday's hearing was not the time for an apology.


``I'm sure at the dispositional hearing Scott will (apologize),'' Koenig said. ``This court proceeding was to deal with someone's legal guilt.''


O'Malley's mother, Evelyn, wiped away tears throughout the 15-minute proceeding. Neither she nor her husband, Dennis, could be reached for comment following the hearing.


O'Malley is being tutored at home. He remains confined to his home with 24-hour adult supervision under a judge's order.


The handgun was registered to Lt. David C. Wayman, an officer with the DEC who lives on Lake Road, not far from the boys' homes. Investigators said Wayman told them the gun was stolen when his house was burglarized. The gun was Wayman's personal weapon and was not issued by the department.


DEC officials and Wayman have declined comment on how the gun ended up along Mudge Road or whether Wayman reported it missing. Spokesman Gary Sheffer said the department has initiated disciplinary action against Wayman, but he declined to elaborate.