Killing Time at Shadow Mountain High

When bad things happen to good neighbors

"Turn off my beeper," Pat said.

Pat McCarville is a likable kid, big-boned and handsome, his dark eyebrows knit into a permanent frown. The scar on his right side where Mike Shoemaker's knife cut into him is little more than an inch long. The wound was five inches deep, and doctors told his parents that if it had been a quarter-inch deeper, it would have killed him. But the scar from the surgery that saved his life stretches from his solar plexus almost to his groin, and sections of it still ache. He had not recovered enough by the start of basketball season to make the team.

Paul Richardson made the team, though just weeks ago he quit after a dispute with the coach. His mother says he still feels the physical effects of his wounds, but the emotional scars are more painful.

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As a twin, he had never even gone to school by himself, and now he has to learn to be independent.

"Paul's seen Ryan die," says his mother, Connie Richardson. "He's seen his brother Danny die. He has nightmares. I've never seen anyone die. But I've got nightmares of my own."

Both Acevedo and Shoemaker are free on bond awaiting trial. Lopez--although some witnesses claimed he held Paul while Paul was being stabbed--was not even charged.

And although police insist that the stabbing was not at all related to the Ryan Winn shooting, the two still came together again.

In December, Paul Richardson and Pat McCarville went to Metrocenter to do some Christmas shopping. As they walked through the parking lot, Pat says, a car cruised past them, and they realized that one of the two kids inside was Chris Colombi. Pat and Paul kept walking.

Moments later, as they shopped in an athletic-wear store, Chris' companion walked up to Pat.

"You think you're pretty tough since you got shanked," Pat claims the other boy said to him, followed by the same old classic: "Do you want to go outside?"

And though Pat had seen Ryan and Danny get killed, and had nearly died himself because of those words, he followed the boy out of the store into the mall lobby where Chris Colombi waited.

Pat called them punks.
"Do you have a gun?" he asked Chris' friend, and the boy said he didn't.
"Chris, what about you?" he claims he continued. "You got a gun?"

And then Pat claims that Chris answered, "You want to go outside and find out?"

This time Pat walked away.
The confrontation could have been enough to have Chris' bail revoked. Sources close to the investigation claim that police contacted Chris about the incident, and he told them that Pat and Paul had been the aggressors, and so they declared it a wash.

Chris Colombi and Greg Acevedo will be tried in adult court. Mike Shoemaker is still in juvenile court, until and unless the judge handling his case decides to transfer him to adult court as well.

At each hearing, the parents gather in defense of their boys, all thinking their child has been wronged by the other, the "bad" boys.

And all worry that perhaps their sons areat fault. And to a degree, they all are. The benches in the courthouses resemble church pews, and the families of the accused and the victims sit on opposite sides, like families in a wedding.

On a recent afternoon, Connie Richardson sits in the juvenile court on Durango, herface drained of color as a psychologist (paid more than $4,000for his testimony) describes her son's killer in terms more fitting of an Eagle Scout.

Greg Acevedo is a broad-backed young man, with thick, jet-black hair combed straight back. He wears a red prison tee shirt, his wrists bound by handcuffs, his legs in shackles. His father sits at his side. And though the father seems an honest, hardworking man, the police record reveals that he instructed his girlfriend, Lori Norfolk, to wash the boys' knives and their bloody clothing after the stabbings.

Greg is an honor-roll student, the psychologist says, with no criminal record and a relatively healthy psychological profile. There is nothing in the doctor's testimony to explain why Greg would carry a double-edged dagger and stab another young man to death with it.

His uncle, sitting in the courthouse pews, turns to his neighbor and says, "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."

When the hearing ends, Greg's parents and aunts and uncles line up to hug him before the bailiff leads him away with the short and stiff steps that leg irons require. (He will later be transferred to adult court and subsequently released on bond.)

On another afternoon in the same courthouse, Mike Shoemaker, a frail kid with dirty-blond hair who looks younger than his17 years, quivers at the same defense table. His family is there in force.

"You're going to see that we're the real victims," his grandmother calls out.

Indeed, his attorney's defense strategy seems to be thesame as Chris Colombi's, the same as Greg Acevedo's: frame the instant in which the big jocks are attacking the smaller kids who strike back in self-defense.

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