updated 2/24/2009 3:55:23 PM ET 2009-02-24T20:55:23

A 15-year-old boy was arrested in a sniper-style slaying of a public works employee in Syracuse, N.Y., after police learned that his friend falsely confessed to the crime.

Ja-Le Johnson, 16, originally gave a statement admitting he shot 47-year-old Casimir Snyder on Jan. 4, police said. But they're now charging Shawn Rhines with second-degree murder.

Johnson intentionally misled authorities in a test of loyalty to see if his friend would step forward or let him take the blame, police said.

The buddies would hang out in the attic of Johnson's brother's house and target practice with their rifles, police said. They started by shooting at objects, then squirrels and rabbits.

Rhines was arraigned Tuesday. His lawyer offered no immediate comment.

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