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Saying goodbye to Martinez

Frances Smith-Woods comforts her son Jahiem, 8, as they grieve the loss of Martinez Smith-Payne, 13, at his funeral on Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, at the Serenity Memorial Funeral and Cremation Service in St. Louis. Martinez was fatally shot Nov. 29 in St. Louis as he and two other minors were interrupted stealing from an unlocked vehicle, police say. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • Prosecutors filed on Friday a charge against a man from St. Louis they say fatally shot a teenager rifling through his car last month — not for the killing but for being a felon in possession of a gun.

Prosecutors have been reviewing potential charges against Lervurance McDade, 60, in the death. But it appears that the shooting of Martinez Smith-Payne, 13, may be considered legal under Missouri’s 2007 castle doctrine statute that permits use of deadly force in the face of “reasonable fear.”

The shot was fired from a distance of more than 70 feet away, police sources said.

Documents charging McDade with unlawful possession of a firearm say he handed a Colt .380-caliber pistol to police Sgt. James Kenny five minutes after the shooting. McDade was arrested and admitted that he owned the gun.

He had pleaded guilty of illegal possession of a weapon and unlawful use of a weapon on Nov. 21, 1989, in Pemiscot County, Mo., court documents say. He also was sentenced in 2013 in St. Louis County Circuit Court to five years on probation on a felony charge of being more than 12 months in arrears on child support.

Bail for McDade was set at $30,000 cash.

Martinez’s mother, Frances Smith-Woods, said Friday that she was happy about the gun charge but still wanted to talk to McDade.

“I just know that it still will not bring back Martinez,” she said. “But I would really want to ask him why did he just shoot instead of coming out and scaring them or yelling at them? I know my son. If (McDade) would have come out and said, ‘Get out of here!,’ my son would have ran. He didn’t have to kill Martinez. He took a big piece of me away.”

In an email, a spokeswoman for Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said that there was “insufficient evidence for further charges in this matter.”

The dead teen’s cousin, Ernest Williams, 14, has said that they and another boy were wrong to sneak out on their bikes, hop a backyard fence and rummage through a car for pocket change about 12:45 a.m. Nov. 29. The car was parked on its owner’s property in the 5900 block of Riverview Boulevard.

Ernest said the man did not confront the boys before firing. Nobody else was hurt.

The cousins’ friend, 11, ran off, but Ernest called 911 and stayed with Martinez until police arrived. Martinez, who lived in the 5200 block of Davison Avenue, died at a hospital. Ernest was taken into juvenile custody for several hours.

Joyce had issued a prepared statement after the shooting calling it “a terrible tragedy” and noting that “Missouri law regarding a homeowner’s right to protect himself and his property is complicated.”

Martinez attended the seventh grade at Confluence Elite Academy in St. Louis, his mother said.

Robert Patrick and Joel Currier of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.