As recently as Jan. 31, the teenager accused of shooting eight people after an Oklahoma City Thunder playoff game declared his unwillingness to give up the gang life, telling a jail detention officer he “would be back on the streets” in as little as 15 months.
Now Avery Myers is looking at life in prison if convicted in connection with the shootings, after a judge ruled Friday that Myers will face trial as an adult.
Myers, 17, of Oklahoma City, is charged with eight counts of shooting with intent to kill, or in the alternative, eight counts of assault and battery with a deadly weapon.
The shootings took place after a May 21 game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Associate District Judge Richard W. Kirby considered testimony from five mental health experts over a four-month period before rejecting a motion by defense attorneys to have Myers certified as a juvenile.
“The court finds compelling the testimony of each of the mental health experts in this case and that none of these professionals recommend that the defendant be certified as a juvenile,” Kirby wrote in his ruling.
If convicted as a juvenile, Myers would have been released on his 19th birthday, regardless of whether he completed a treatment plan.
Among the evidence Kirby considered in making his decision were Myers' level of gang involvement, violent behavior and substance abuse.
Myers has been disciplined five times since being booked into the Oklahoma County jail on May 29, including once on the day before he was set to appear in Kirby's courtroom for the final day of testimony in his certification hearing.
“He was verbally belligerent and disrespectful to an Oklahoma County officer and threatened him with gang gestures and comments regarding ‘Tupac,' a known gang figure,” according to the judge's report.
On Dec. 11, Myers received a 30-day sanction for fighting with another inmate. He punched the inmate two additional times while the inmate was being restrained. On Jan. 12, Myers got into a fight with an inmate and had to be pepper-sprayed when he refused to stop fighting.
On Jan. 31, Myers recited violent and obscene lyrics by rapper Tupac, telling the detention officer “it was a thug life,” and he was the “modern-day Tupac.” The officer also testified that Myers told him “he doesn't care about county (jail),” and he would “be out … in 15 months and back on the streets.”
In August, Kirby ruled there was enough evidence to prosecute Myers, who is accused of shooting into a crowd of unarmed people.
Prosecutors, Kirby wrote, proved “there is good cause to believe the defendant would not reasonably complete a plan of rehabilitation, and that the public would not be adequately protected if the defendant were to be sentenced as a youthful offender.”
Defense attorneys argued that Myers, then 16, acted in self-defense because he felt threatened by a group.
Defense attorneys told the judge they plan to appeal the ruling.
Myers is set to appear in Oklahoma County District Court on March 6.