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Prosecutors: Missing 12-year-old Billings boy killed by accidental gunshot

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Posted at 1:14 PM, Apr 05, 2024

BILLINGS - A 12-year-old Billings boy who was reported missing died of an accidental gunshot in the bedroom of a 15-year-old friend, according to prosecutors.

The body of Andy Paul Beartusk Martinez was found March 15 in a shed on the property of a residence on Terry Avenue after an extensive search and investigation by law enforcement.

The boy was reported missing on March 7. Authorities said he died of a gunshot to the head, leading to speculation he had been intentionally killed.

But in charging documents filed Thursday and released to Q2 News on Friday, prosecutors said Martinez was inside a bedroom with three other teens when a gun being handled by a 15-year-old discharged and fatally struck Martinez.

Police announced the arrest of the 15-year-old boy on Thursday, and the court documents filed in Yellowstone County Youth Court reveal the events prosecutors said led to the death of Martinez and the effort to conceal the crime.

The 15-year-old boy accused of causing the death of Martinez has been charged as a youth with negligent homicide and two counts of felony tampering with evidence. A 13-year-old boy who was present in the room at the time of the shooting has also been charged as a youth with two counts of tampering with evidence and one count of obstructing a peace officer. Both teens are being held in a Billings youth detention facility.

Q2 News is not naming the two teens because of their age and the nature of the alleged offenses.

Martinez Missing

According to the charging documents, Billings police officers were first involved in the case on Feb. 23 when they were sent to the residence on Terry Avenue to check for Martinez, who was considered a possible runaway. Officers spoke with the 15-year-old boy and an older teen who told them Martinez had left the residence two days earlier. The teen's mother consented to a search of the residence but the officers did not locate Martinez.

On March 7, the charging documents state, officers responded to a runaway report made by Martinez's father, who said the boy was staying with his sister in Billings. The sister told the father she had not seen or had any contact with Martinez since Feb. 21.

Officers learned from others who knew the boy that he may be staying at a residence in Pryor or with his girlfriend, court records state. Officers continued to try and find Martinez, requested assistance from other law enforcement agencies, and a missing person report was completed.

On March 8, officers spoke with Martinez's sister, who confirmed she had last spoken with the boy on Feb. 21. In that conversation, she said, Martinez had asked if he could go to Pryor with a friend. The sister said she had no further contact with Martinez after that day and she thought he may have run away. The boy had run away before, she said, but never for that long. She also said it was unusual that the boy had not been active on social media since February, and that she had last seen the boy at Central Park.

Officers next spoke with Martinez's girlfriend on March 12, who said she had been to the residence on Terry Avenue since Martinez had run away and hadn't seen him there. She said she hadn't spoken with the boy since he ran away.

Police detectives then obtained a search warrant to obtain information from Martinez's social media accounts and learned the accounts were last accessed from an IP address connected to the residence on Terry Avenue.

Search Warrants

On March 15, police detectives executed several search warrants at the Terry Avenue residence, court records state. They located the 13-year-old boy who has been charged in the case in a bedroom where they also observed two firearms on a bed near the boy. The firearms were seized, and one was confirmed to have been stolen.

A search of a shed on the property revealed Martinez's body, which was covered by a blanket. Police said at the time he had died of a gunshot to the head.

The 13-year-old boy was interviewed at City Hall, court records state, and "initially lied to BPD detectives," stating he did not know the whereabouts of Martinez. When confronted with the information that the body had been found in the shed, the boy provided a different story, stating that Martinez had been staying at the Terry Avenue house.

The boy said at the time of the shooting he and Martinez were playing video games, while the 15-year-old and a 19-year-old boy were also in the room. One of them was "messing around with a firearm" that suddenly discharged and the bullet struck Martinez in the head.

The 13-year-old boy told police he believed the shooting was an accident, and the oldest boy ordered him to help move the body and clean up the blood. The boy said he did not report the incident to police because he was scared.

Following the interview, officers returned to the Terry Avenue residence and conducted an extensive search of the 13-year-old boy's bedroom where they located "probable blood and a bullet defect on a wall" that had been concealed by a sticker, court records state.

The 15-year-old initially denied being involved in the shooting, then later gave a similar account of the incident as the 13-year-old boy. He said Martinez had come to the house on Feb. 21 and stayed the night. At some point, the boys were in the bedroom when he was "playing with the pistol and tapping his finger on the trigger when the pistol discharged."

The boy said he did not know the gun was loaded, court records state. He said he panicked and wanted to call police but the younger boy "convinced him to cover it up" by putting Martinez's body in the shed.

The 15-year-old boy allegedly admitted to putting the body in the shed, cleaning up blood and discarding several items belonging to Martinez, including a phone and shoes. He said the 19-year-old had "nothing to do" with the shooting.

The 19-year-old was initially identified by police as a "person of interest" in the case. He was arrested on March 15 on unrelated charges and has not been charged in connection to the shooting death of Martinez.

Police later located the pistol believed to be involved in the shooting and confirmed it was stolen.

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