Man accidentally kills brother but still faces manslaughter charge

THE DALLES, Ore. - Investigators say the shooting death of a man's brother in The Dalles over the weekend was an accident but the man still faces a felony manslaughter charge.

James Daniel Perez-Hammond, 18, appeared at a hearing at the Wasco County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Prosecutors haven't said much about what happened before Perez-Hammond accidentally shot and killed his 15-year-old brother, Michael Perez-Hammond, who was a sophomore at The Dalles Wahtonka High School.

Even though police say it was an accident, prosecutors say Perez-Hammond was reckless. The Wasco County district attorney described his actions as "extreme indifference to the value of human life" and that he was aware of his dangerous conduct and disregarded the risk.

The court didn't go into details about what the conduct was or what exactly happened except that the 15-year-old died from a single pistol shot to the head.

The incident happened early Sunday morning at the family's home on East 8th Street near the downtown area.

"I guess they were playing around with a gun and accidents happen even though they shouldn't have been messing around with a gun like that in the first place," said Israel Hernandez who grew up with the brothers.

According to the district attorney, there is still some question about who the gun belonged to and where it came from.

Perez-Hammond just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago. He doesn't have any prior record as an adult. The DA says he doesn't know about any trouble Perez-Hammond may have had as a juvenile.

Friends of the family said that he did get into typical teenage trouble, and they described the brothers as typical.

One neighbor who's lived in the neighborhood for almost 40 years said she's never noticed any trouble at the boys' home and didn't hear anything like fighting or yelling early Sunday morning.

But something similar has happened before. She said she remembers one other killing almost 30 years ago in the same apartment.

A Wasco County grand jury will look at the case on Thursday.