KAMAS — More than a year ago, the Summit County Sheriff's Office called the shooting death of an 11-year-old Kamas boy a "tragic accident."
Now, Cash Cover's 15-year-old brother is charged with manslaughter and accused of shooting and killing the boy after trying to scare him with a gun. The second-degree felony charge was filed in July in 3rd District Juvenile Court. The teen's first court appearance is scheduled for Friday.
On June 3, 2020, Cash and his older brother, then 14, were outside their house with their mother when they were given permission "to access a BB gun to shoot on the property," according to a statement from the sheriff's office shortly after the incident.
"At some point, the two boys entered the home and accessed a handgun — not BB gun — from a bedroom. Shortly after, the mother heard screaming coming from inside the home. When she entered the home, she discovered Cash had a gunshot wound," the sheriff's office stated.
Cash suffered a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. At the time, deputies did not believe anyone else was involved. The Cover family released a statement saying that Cash "lost his life in a tragic accident involving a gun. The injury was not self-inflicted."
But questions about how the gun went off remained unanswered and detectives continued to investigate the shooting. Summit County Sheriff's Lt. Andrew Wright said information that was publicly released was based on what was known at the time.
In a series of search warrant affidavits filed in 2020, investigators noted that when they talked to the older brother he "provided inconsistent statements on how the shooting occurred."
The teen retrieved a real gun from his parents' bedroom without permission, the warrants state. He then claimed to police that he and Cash were fighting about who would get to fire the gun first and "during the tussle over the gun, it went off."
Later, the brother changed his story and claimed "that he manipulated the gun in the living room of the residence as he was walking towards his bedroom … (and) believes the round may have been ejected at that time," one of the warrants says.
However, "It was later discovered by the father that (the brother) wasn't being truthful about the events leading to the shooting," according to one affidavit.
The older brother was then reinterviewed by police on June 23, 2020.
"(He) told law enforcement that on the day of the shooting, he decided to get a gun to scare (Cash). He retrieved the gun from his parents' bedroom and went to his bedroom to wait for (Cash) to come into the home. When (Cash) came around the corner, he told (him), 'Look.' He aimed the gun at (Cash) and pressed the trigger down. The gun then went off and a bullet struck (Cash), killing him," according to juvenile court charging documents.
KSL.com has chosen not to name the teenager at this time.
According to the warrants, after retrieving the gun, "(the brother) recalls unlocking the gun's thumb lock, causing a live round to go into the chamber. While standing in front of his bedroom door he waited for Cash to walk around the corner and pointed the gun at him. (He) said his hand was on the trigger and he believed the gun didn't have a round inside of it and that the safety would be on. (He) then pulled the trigger and the gun went off. (The teen) was still unable to provide a clear explanation of how the live round was ejected from the gun."
The court documents also say the father asked his son "how long have you been planning this and (he) said about a week (prior to the shooting)." The documents aren't clear about exactly what may have been planned.
According to Utah law, a manslaughter charge is typically filed when a person is believed to have recklessly caused the death of another person, while a murder charge is filed when a person is believed to have intentionally caused the death of another person.
The Summit County Attorney's Office declined comment about the case Tuesday. Court documents do not indicate which attorney is representing the teen.