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Boy Sentenced In Murder Of Field Hand 12-Year-Old To Remain In Detention Until 21st Birthday

A 12-year-old boy convicted of murdering a migrant worker by shooting him more than 18 times was sentenced Friday to juvenile detention until his 21st birthday.

John Duncan, of Wenatchee, was convicted Jan. 9 of first-degree murder in the Aug. 20 shooting of seasonal worker Emilio Pruneda. Duncan’s co-defendant, Manuel Sanchez, also 12, of Wenatchee, was convicted of first-degree murder Jan. 13 and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 9.

Chelan County Juvenile Judge John Bridges said he could not sentence Duncan to the standard 3 to 4 years because of the aggravating factors of the crime.

“The standard range in this case would be a total injustice,” Bridges said.

Duncan told police immediately after the slaying that he shot Pruneda because the migrant worker had thrown rocks at Sanchez and injured “my best and only friend.”

Before issuing the sentence, Bridges told the court clerk to place a photo of Pruneda, lying dead on the Columbia River bank, in front of Duncan.

Duncan kept his head down and his eyes averted as he began to cry.

“Based on the evidence, the court can surmise the last face Mr. Pruneda saw was Mr. Duncan’s. John Duncan, I hope you can never get Mr. Pruneda’s face out of your mind,” the judge said, before ordering the boy to look at the photo.

“We can pray his (Pruneda’s) soul is at rest now. John Duncan, whether yours ever is will be up to you,” Bridges said.

Duncan’s family sat in the back row of a crowded courtroom, huddled together.

His mother, Jennifer Duncan, initially said she had no comment after the sentencing.

“Wait, I do have one thing to say. I don’t care what that judge said, he’s a fine child,” Duncan said. “He’s a wonderful child who did a bad thing. They can’t take him away from me.”