March 14, 2013

Three Manning teens were accused in juvenile court this week of felony weapons-related crimes for an alleged late-night vehicle chase this month in which one of the teens allegedly fired a gun at a vehicle of youths southwest of Halbur.

Keaton J. Otto, who is either 14 or 15 years old, is accused of intimidation with a dangerous weapon for allegedly shooting at the vehicle, according to court documents.

His brother, Colton J. Otto, who is either 16 or 17, and Tanner L.E. Bald, 16, are accused of aiding the crime.

The vehicle chase happened in the overnight hours of March 2, Sheriff Doug Bass said. It encompassed a "large area," he said, but the alleged shooting was on a gravel road southwest of Halbur.

Bass declined to name the alleged victims or comment further about the case at the request of Carroll County Attorney John Werden, Bass said.

Iowa law says that the date, time, location and "immediate facts and circumstances" of a crime are a public record unless revealing the information would jeopardize an investigation or pose a danger to someone involved in the case.

Bass speculated this morning that some of the information about the incident might endanger the alleged victims.

The Manning teens are charged in juvenile court, in which the maximum penalty is confinement to a juvenile detention center until they are 18 years old.

Iowa law allows children ages 14 and older to be tried in district court as adults, in which the teens would face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges.

It's unclear whether Werden will request that the boys be tried as adults. Juvenile court proceedings are not open to the public.

"I have no comment for you at any time," Werden said in the Carroll County courthouse this morning.

His office initially declined to release any information about the case on Wednesday but relented after multiple requests.

Werden has declined all requests for comment from the Daily Times Herald since last year when the newspaper filed a complaint against him with the Iowa Office of Citizens' Aide/Ombudsman for refusing to give information about a man that he employed whose handgun accidentally discharged in the county courthouse. The complaint is still pending.