SALINA, Kan. (AP) — Six people have been charged in the killing of a 17-year-old Salina girl in what police say was a case of mistaken identity.
Four of the suspects, Macio Palacio Jr., 22, Stephen Gentry, 18, Daniel Sims, 19, and Jerome Forbes, 19, made their first court appearance Monday via closed circuit TV in Saline County Court on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary.
The four Salina men are being held in the Saline County Jail on $1 million bond for the death of Allie Saum. They each face life in prison with a minimum sentence of 50 years, with an alternative count of felony murder, which carries a sentence of life with a minimum of 25 years, The Salina Journal reported. A 17-year-old faces the same charges, plus an obstruction charge, in juvenile court. The Saline County Attorney’s Office is determining whether to try him as an adult.
Azucena Garcia-Ferniza also made her first appearance Monday on a charge of obstruction of official duty.
Authorities allege Saum died Wednesday when one of the suspects shot at a pickup truck she was riding in because he mistakenly believed it belonged to someone he had fought with earlier. One of the bullets hit Saum in the head.
Saum’s boyfriend, Vince Johnson, said the couple was just driving, talking and laughing last Wednesday when he suddenly had “the worse moment of my life.”
“We drove past a group of people. Then I heard gunshots, and (Allie) was struck,” he recalled as he visited a memorial set up near the shooting site. “I pulled over and laid her down right there. I wasn’t as terrified as much as I was worried.”
Johnson tried to give Saum CPR and after she was taken to the hospital, he was taken to the police station to give a statement. He said he regrets not being with her when she died.
He has no interest in talking to the suspects “other than to ask ‘why.’ I hope they get what they deserve,” he said.
Allie’s father, Danny Saum, said in a statement released Friday that losing his daughter left a hole in his heart that will never be filled.
“She was just so happy. Her smile alone could make anything better. I am grateful for each and every day I got to spend with Allie,” he said.
Saum’s funeral is scheduled for Tuesday at 3 p.m. in Salina, followed by a private family burial.
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