Teen who shot friend on hunting trip will not spend time in prison

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by TERESA WOODARD

WFAA

Posted on January 27, 2014 at 11:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 28 at 10:30 AM

Bonnie Tatera sat in her home Monday evening, visibly shaken from the events of the day and of the last few months.

Near a raging fireplace sat a large picture of her son, Nate Maki, who died in August. He was 18 years old.

"Can you give me just a minute?" she asked as she put her face in her hands for a moment.

Tatera lost her son, and the boy who admits to killing him will spend five years on probation.

Michael Bryce Underwood was 17 at the time of the shooting on his grandfather's property near Bowie, in Montague County. He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide Monday. Underwood will spend no time in prison.

It is a plea deal Tatera doesn't like, and she found the strength to talk about it.

"Honestly, I wish [Underwood] would've gotten some time, to actually sit and think about what he had done. Whether it was an accident or not," she said. "I mean, since day one he's been out. He's gotten to be with his family. He hangs out with his friends."

As terms of his probation, Underwood cannot drink alcohol and must finish high school.

"No, I didn't agree to it," Tatera said. "I had no say, actually."

Underwood must also speak at a gun safety course, which is a condition Tatera did request.

Michael Underwood made a tearful call to 911 after shooting Maki in August of 2013.

"We were hunting coyotes," a tearful Underwood told the dispatcher. "I was calling them. I pulled my gun to the left and I accidentally pulled the trigger. The safety was off and it went off in his head. Nate, Nate please. Nate. Oh my God. Sir, I'm begging you. It's my best friend."

That 911 call is the only explanation Tatera has ever heard.

"I don't know the whole story at all," she said. "And I believe that's why it hurts so much."

She said Underwood didn't look at her during Monday's court proceeding.

"I feel that he maybe tried to avoid looking in our direction," she said. "We didn't have any eye contact. No words were spoken from him to us."

Nate Maki was a standout football player at Denton Guyer High School. He was a member of the state champion teams and died as his senior year had just started.

His father, Harold Maki, lives in Wisconsin. He sent an e-mail to the Montague County District Attorney, hoping it would be read aloud during Monday's hearing.

It wasn't.

He shared that written statement with News 8's Jim Douglas, saying communities from Texas to Wisconsin were mourning Nate's loss.

"It hurts so bad!!!! We've heard so many stories of what happened the night of August 31, 2013. I believe Bryce has lied too many times [about] what happened that night. I don't know if we will ever know the truth!"

The elder Maki also said probation was less than a slap on the wrist.

He and Tatera said every facet of their lives are different. They did not think their pain could get any worse, but both say the outcome of the court proceeding proved them wrong.

Because Underwood hasn't shown remorse, or said he's sorry, Tatera said she has not found forgiveness.

"And I can't right now, I can't find peace," she said.

E-mail twoodard@wfaa.com

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