Killing Time at Shadow Mountain High

Page 7 of 8

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.

Tommy Lopez, who was part of the fight but was not charged, sits out inthe hallway, waiting to testify. He's a handsome kid, as lean as Greg is stocky, and he seems to wear a constant smirk. Lori Norfolk's stepson sits next to him, sucking on a Tootsie Roll pop while waiting his turn. Their parents are not with them in court.

At the end of the hearing, as Pat McCarville's parents leave the courthouse with the detective investigating the case, Lopez and the other boy are driving past in the parking lot.

Dramatically, the boys spin tires, and shout something out the windows that neither the McCarvilles nor the detective can hear, but which they interpret as menacing.

Later, when Lori Norfolk hears of the parking-lot incident, she explains that her son Greg and Tommy were really joshing with Mike Shoemaker and his family, that Tommy had accidentally driven his car over the curb, and that the boys and Mike's family were calling back and forth jokingly when the McCarvilles walked past.

"They can say what they want, but that's not what happened," says Pat McCarville, the father of Pat Jr.

More than once, Theresa McCarville has heard the thump, thump of music that throbs like a parody of a heartbeat out of cars with tinted windows that cruise down her street and pause in front of her house. She's given license-plate numbers tothe police, but they won't tell her who the cars belong to. Like all the parents involved, Theresa is scared for her kids.

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Michael Kiefer