Grand Jury Indicts Butler High Student On Second-Degree Murder Charge
Updated 3 p.m.
A Mecklenburg County Grand Jury indicted Jatwan Cuffie Monday on the charge of second-degree murder. The 16-year-old is accused of fatally shooting a fellow student in the halls of Butler High School the morning of Oct. 29.
The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office said the Grand Jury returned a “true bill” for the second-degree murder charge — signaling that there is enough evidence to pursue the charge.
The indictment moves the case from District Court to Superior Court. Cuffie had been scheduled to appear in District Court Wednesday, but that hearing will no longer be held. His appearance in Superior Court has not yet been scheduled.
Cuffie was originally charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Bobby McKeithen, 16. The DA’s office has not commented on why Cuffie is facing the lesser second-degree murder charge, and says it cannot discuss details of the case further.
Under North Carolina state law, second-degree murder differs from first-degree in that it’s not considered a premeditated act, even if it’s an intentional killing. People convicted of second-degree murder can face sentences of 12 years to life in prison.
But the reduction in the charge would mean Cuffie may qualify for a bond hearing that could release him from the Mecklenburg County Jail, where he has been held since he was arrested the day of the shooting.
Updated: 11:45 a.m.
The Butler High School student accused of killing a fellow student in the school hallway on Oct. 29 is facing a lesser charge, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Jatwan Cuffie, 16, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Bobby McKeithen, also 16. According to the Observer, Monday’s docket for the Mecklenburg Grand Jury says Cuffie faces a lesser second-degree murder charge.
A list of indictments are expected to be released Monday afternoon after the Grand Jury meets.
With the charge against Cuffie lowered, the teen may qualify for a bond hearing. Cuffie has been held at the Mecklenburg County Jail since the shooting, but could be released on bail before he faces trial. Cuffie is expected to make an appearance in court Wednesday.
Cuffie's attorney Michael Green says he has no comment on the case at this time.
The shooting took place in the hallways of Butler High School before classes started Monday, Oct. 29. Authorities say the two boys had been fighting when Cuffie pulled out a gun and shot McKeithen.
Court documents show that Cuffie told Matthews police in an interview that the shooting followed an Oct. 26 fight in a Harris Teeter parking lot, where someone pulled out a knife. Video from the fight has been released, and showed McKeithen at the scene but not actively fighting.
Cuffie also told police that he and McKeithen had argued about the fight and who won over text message. He said some others had called for a rematch at school the next week.
According to court documents, the teen told investigators that he was afraid the morning of the shooting and retrieved a gun from the woods on his way to the bus stop. Police have said that the gun used was stolen from a car in Gaston County.
Cuffie told police that he was in the hallway talking to a friend when McKeithen came up and punched him. The two then began the hallway fight that led to the shooting. After Cuffie shot McKeithen, authorities say he ran and turned himself in to a teacher. He was taken into custody that morning.