Thursday, February 19, 2009

That 9 year-old Arizona boy pled guilty today to one count of negligent homicide. Link

He won't serve any time in the state juvenile correctional facility or an adult prison ever. He will be on intensive probation. He might live in an institutional setting or he might live with relatives. He will receive mental health evaluations at ages 12, 15, and 17.

It's certainly better than a first-degree murder conviction or two. It's better than the state's threat to hold onto the more serious charges until the boy was older, when they would try to pursue murder charges in adult court. And goodness knows the boy is going to need some serious therapy after everything he's been through.

This just doesn't feel right. I realize I don't know all the information contained in police reports. I don't know all the behind-the-scenes machinations that went on. But my gut just tells me this isn't the right result here. The boy's mother did not agree to this plea. She steadfastly maintains that her son did not shoot these two men. His attorney hasn't exactly disagreed with her claim.

I have seen snippets of that alleged confession. From what I have seen, I do not trust it. I worry that overzealous police planted the idea in this kid's head. The kid, traumatized by the murder of his father, would have been fuzzy on what had happened and would probably have been highly suggestible. Memory is such a tricky thing that by the time they got him around to saying he'd shot the two men, it would no longer matter whether that was the truth or not. That boy would believe his false confession. I cannot shake the feeling that this is roughly what happened in this boy's case.

Maybe I'm just too optimistic about the innocence of 8 year-olds. But I just can't convince myself that justice was achieved here.

5 comments:

mikeb302000 said...

Your take on it hits directly on my other favorite topic, the overzelous prosecutors and police. This has been coming up a lot lately, hasn't it?

S said...

It comes up in my world every day. I think even most of the "obviously guilty" guys are woefully overcharged.

Dreamybee said...

I can't believe there would have been consideration to hold him until he is older and then attempt to try him as an adult. Just because he gets older doesn't mean you get to try him differently; he was still 9 when this happened!

I don't tend to be very sympathetic to under-age murderers, but then I'm thinking about the "kid" who didn't know it was wrong to put a gun to somebody's head and pull the trigger because he was only 17 years, 360 days old and, therefore, shouldn't be tried as an adult. Whatever buddy. You're old enough to know killing somebody is forever and it is wrong. A 9-year-old though...even I've got to give that kid some leeway.

Dreamybee said...

Oops, make that, "he was still 8 when this happened!"

Anonymous said...

Apparently, Chief Roy Melnick (despite his extensive legal training) regarded the release of a video in which the child "appeared calm and methodical" as legitimate (no gag order?) and could avoid Mirada since his prisoner was afterall underage. Where was the child advocate for this youngster?

Further investigation of child abuse (of which there was some evidence) and the mother's role are still called for in this case, as well as a psychiatric evaluation of the boy.

 
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