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Kansas teen charged in 9-year-old stepbrother's death is hospitalized

A Kansas teenager who pleaded guilty in the death of his 9-year-old stepbrother has been referred to a psychiatric hospital.

Ryan Velez of Assaria pleaded guilty in September to unintentional but reckless second-degree murder in the shooting death of his stepbrother, Kaden Harper. Velez had been certified to stand trial as an adult.

The Salina Journal reported that Velez was referred to Larned State Hospital on Wednesday. His lawyer, Mitch Christians, said Larned is better equipped to deal with Velez's mental health needs than prison.

A sentence report recommended Velez be admitted to Larned. His maximum stay will be about 10 years, the maximum prison sentence he could have received.

The Associated Press generally doesn't identify minors accused of crimes until they've pleaded guilty or been convicted as adults.

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