A teen accused of shooting two people outside the Rockville Metro Station in May pleaded guilty Monday.
Prosecutors said 17-year-old Kevin Nguyen shot 16-year-old Jared Cannon and 19-year-old Wasima Gray May 18. Last week, a jury found 17-year-old Tavares Harris guilty of first-degree assault and use of a handgun to commit a crime of violence. Prosecutors said he provided the gun Nguyen used.
“We now have a defendant who has just turned 17, who by pleading guilty faces a 50 year sentence,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said. “We feel it's justice under the facts in this case.”
It was gang-related retaliation the day after a fight at Richard Montgomery High School, prosecutors said. Prosecutors said Harris and Nguyen were members of the Y2C gang and that Harris took the gun to the Metro station and gave it to Nguyen, who approached Cannon, saying, "I heard you wanted to rob me." Nguyen pulled the slide back and fired the handgun four times hitting Cannon and grazing Gray, an innocent bystander.
The gun used in the shooting was seen brandished by Harris in a video. That video and a trail of text messages helped solve the case, prosecutors said.
"It's a reflection of, I guess, increasing sophistication, realizing that social media mined by law enforcement can in fact yield information that's vitally important to us in the prosecution of our crimes, and it was vitally important to us in this case," McCarthy said.
Nguyen’s defense hopes by pleading guilty to attempted second-degree murder and use of a handgun in a crime of violence, their client might get a more lenient sentence. The attempted murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years, while the handgun charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years.
“He's looking at a five-year minimum mandatory,” lawyer Tom Degonia said. “He's going to have to do at least five years -- the judge has to give him that amount. And we're hoping, obviously, to keep it as low as possible so that he has a chance to come out and have a productive life after the sentence that he serves.”
By pleading guilty, Nguyen gave up his chance of being tried as an adult.
Nguyen is being held without bond. Sentencing is scheduled for March 12. Harris will be sentenced in February and faces a possibility of up to 40 years in prison.