STERLING – The tall, thin brown-haired boy stared down at the table as the charge against him was read: felony reckless conduct.
Brady Osborne, 16 – dressed in blue and surrounded by his parents and grandparents – sat opposite the family of the boy he is accused of accidentally killing, his best friend.
Matt Anderson, 15, died nearly 6 months ago, on March 1, killed by a gunshot wound to his chest.
Whiteside County prosecutors say Osborne, the son of Illinois State Police trooper Troy Osborne, caused great bodily harm to Anderson after he picked up a loaded Glock handgun to show him, and the gun discharged.
Anderson was taken to CGH Medical Center in Sterling, where he later died.
Were he being tried as an adult, reckless conduct would carry the minimal felony sentence, 1 to 3 years in prison.
Because he is a juvenile, Osborne faces, among other things, probation or incarceration with the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, until he turns 21.
Sauk Valley Media is publishing the name of the boy because he is charged with a felony in an incident involving a death.
The investigation into what happened between the two boys at the Osbornes' Rock Falls home on that spring day has been a long one, although investigators immediately characterized it as an accident.
The community was hit hard by the tragedy. Anderson was a well-liked Rock Falls High School freshman and an athlete. In the days following his death, students took to wearing the school colors – black and green – in his memory.
Black and green flooded community social media pages, too, with users replacing their profile pictures with a black and green image in Anderson's honor.
A final tweet Anderson sent at the end of January now has a poignant ring to it.
"When someone says I love you, appreciate it," Anderson wrote. "Don’t take it for granted because one day they might not be around anymore to say it."