A 13-year-old was charged Wednesday with murder and possession of a firearm in last weekend’s fatal shooting of a 16-year-old in Carmichael.
A delinquency hearing was held for the suspect at the Sacramento Juvenile Courthouse. The judge blocked media outlets and private persons from posting his name in articles, websites or social media posts to protect the suspect, his family members and the family of the victim, Zachary James Whittington.
The boy also is facing undisclosed charges from a separate incident, for which a hearing will take place later this month.
Judge Judy Holzer Hersher decided to keep the teen in the custody of the juvenile justice center because she said he posed a threat to society, himself and that he had evaded custody before.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Sacramento Bee
On Tuesday, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department said the two teens were “acquaintances” and said detectives believe Whittington’s death was not accidental.
Spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton said that the Sheriff’s Department is “familiar” with multiple members of the suspect’s immediate family.
“To have children of this age involved in criminal acts like this is unprecedented,” Hampton said. “It tugs at your heartstrings.”
On Tuesday night, the family of Whittington spoke alongside other community members at Liberty Towers Church.
Sherrie Whittington, Zachary’s mother, said that he was “such a blessing” and “quite a character.” She said that her son’s death was not the end of Zachary’s story. Whittington was in attendance at court Wednesday with family and church members and declined to comment further.
“I must come to grips of the reality that I am now a part of this club that nobody signed up for — it’s called mothers of murdered children. I’m here today to start the rest of my life,” she said. “I will live with guilt that I could’ve done something more, that I could’ve helped him more. But one thing I will never doubt is my love for him.”
Whittington’s family has established a GoFundMe page to help pay for his burial and to help them move to a new apartment.
Whittington was found dead by deputies Sunday inside his Carmichael apartment on the 4400 block of Manzanita Avenue after receiving a call about gunshots in the area.
The suspect was detained Sunday afternoon on Bourbon Drive near Scotch Court, less than a mile from where Whittington’s body was discovered inside the apartment. A handgun was found in a trash can near where the suspect was picked up, Hampton said.
No witnesses in the apartment complex had reported having seen anything out of the ordinary as of Sunday afternoon, complicating a scenario Hampton described as “extremely bizarre.”
Children 13 years and younger cannot be tried in adult court in California.