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Bourassa Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Richard H. Bourassa Jr. pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge involving the shooting death of a 17-year-old classmate, the second friend who died in his Anaheim Hills home since 1986.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Myron S. Brown scheduled Bourassa’s trial to begin Jan. 22. A Juvenile Court judge has already ruled that, because of the seriousness of the charge and since Bourassa will be 18 in January, he should be tried as an adult.

Holding his stepfather’s .38-caliber pistol, Bourassa was in his family’s den with friend Christian Wiedepuhl on May 24 when, he told police, the gun accidentally discharged. Wiedepuhl was wounded once in the forehead and died early the next morning.

Prosecutors have said that the physical evidence--gun residue and the direction from which the bullet struck the victim, for instance--does not support Bourassa’s story of what happened. They suggest that Bourassa tried to scare Wiedepuhl by aiming and then firing the gun at him in a reverse form of Russian roulette. They allege that Bourassa, who is dyslexic, removed one round but misjudged the direction in which the five-bullet gun chamber would rotate.

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On Sept. 12, 1986, in the same room and during the same hour of day, Bourassa and friend Jeffrey Bush, both 13, were pointing rifles at each other when the shotgun in Bourassa’s arms went off. Bush was struck several times by buckshot. After he was declared brain-dead the next day, his heart was transplanted into the body of a Northern California woman. Police ruled the shooting accidental.

Bourassa remained in custody at Orange County Jail, where he was being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.


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