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Madras hunter appears in court on murder charge

By Barney Lerten
Published On: Apr 28 2013 05:56:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2013 12:42:46 PM CDT

Jefferson Co. Sheriff's Office; Moschetti family (inset)

Devon Moschetti (upper R) was shot, killed by Montana Marlatt (lower R) during rabbit-hunting outing late last April south of Madras

MADRAS, Ore. -

While friends and family of a 19-year-old Madras man shot and killed on a rabbit-hunting outing expressed shock and grief Monday, a 24-year-old accused of murder and manslaughter made his first appearance before a Jefferson County judge.

Shortly before 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Frontier regional dispatchers informed sheriff’s deputies that a man had just called 911 to report that someone had just been shot in the face with a shotgun, said Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins. He later was identified as Devon Moschetti, 19.

A deputy arrived in the area about 10 minutes later, and witnesses said the suspect, Montana Silk Marlatt, 24, had fled toward the south, Adkins said. The deputy let other responding deputies know by radio and a search began. Marlatt was detained about a half-hour later without incident, he said.

An initial investigation has determined that Moschetti and two other young men around the same age had gone shooting and hunting rabbits about seven miles south of Madras, the sheriff said.

Before heading to the area, they met Marlatt, the brother of one of the other youths, and invited him to go along, Adkins said, adding that all four live in Jefferson County.

“For unknown reasons, Montana Marlatt intentionally pointed a shotgun at Devon Moschetti and shot him, and then he fled the scene,” Adkins said in a statement late Sunday night.

Marlatt faces initial charges of murder and first-degree manslaughter and was lodged at the Jefferson County Jail. The investigation by sheriff’s deputies and the Central Oregon Major Crimes Team continues.

An autopsy was planned Monday at the state Medical Examiner's Office near Portland, with members of the region's major crime team present, Adkins said, adding that the number of times the victim was shot was being withheld for now.

No drugs were found on scene, the sheriff said, and results of toxicology tests won't be available for some time.

Adkins tells The Bulletin newspaper (http://is.gd/dotf95 ) no argument preceded the shooting, and alcohol did not appear to be a factor.

He says: "There was no sense, rhyme or reason to this."

Marlatt, who is being held without bail, made his first court appearance in Madras Monday, by video hookup from the county jail, and sat unresponsive when the judge asked questions.

The victim's mother addressed the court by phone.

"I have no idea how Mr. Marlatt could have done this to my son," she said. "He would not hurt anybody or hold a grudge."

The case now goes to a grand jury, and Marlatt is expected to be back in court Thursday afternoon.

Moschetti graduated from Madras High School last year. The Jefferson County School District has staff on hand for any students wishing to talk about the incident.

Family member Teasha Moschetti said Devon lived in Madras with his sister and "had many friends and was a very loving, happy, friendly, outgoing brother, cousin, child, grandchild and friend."

"For all who knew Devon, most would say he was one of the most polite, respectable kids they knew," she wrote Monday. "His heart was made of pure love. This is a great loss to everyone. He will be missed dearly by the community and his family that is well-known here."

Teasha Moschetti said Devon's brother, Neil, also passed away at the young age of 19.

A celebration of Devon Moschetti's life is planned Friday at 2 p.m. at Sahalee Park in Madras. "All are welcome to join and celebrate the passing of another young man taken too soon," she wrote.

The shooting in a popular target-practice area prompted an extensive manhunt that ended fairly quickly, near a corral about a mile away, Adkins said.

The victim died at the scene after the shooting, near South Adams Drive and Ford Lane, east of Highway 97 on the Crooked River National Grassland.

Adkins said about six to 10 members of the victim’s family had gone to the area upon learning of the shooting. Bend and Deschutes County detectives were called in to help interview witnesses at the Madras Police Department, he said.

"When I got on scene, it was nothing but chaos here, because of the family and friends that were at the scene of the shooting," Adkins told NewsChannel 21 by phone Sunday evening. "Of course, I grew up here, and I know the family, so they're all letting their feelings out."

The suspect reportedly fled without any weapons, Adkins said, adding that a pistol and shotgun were recovered at the scene.

It was the second shooting related to a manhunt and capture in Jefferson County in three days, although there were no indications of any connection between Friday’s and Sunday’s incidents.

An armed fugitive from Montana was shot and critically wounded by an OSP trooper northeast of Madras Friday afternoon, hours after a home burglary brought numerous police to the area in a major ground and air search for the fleeing suspect.

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