Police in California are questioning a 15-year-old boy in the death of an 8-year-old neighbor girl who disappeared while riding her new scooter.
The case comes shortly after a teenage boy in Utah was charged with luring a girl to her death and forces authorities to consider how best to seek justice when children are accused of killing other children.
“It just rattles our sensibilities,” Rob Butters, director of the Utah Criminal Justice Center, said. “If the 15-year-old neighbor kid can do that, who is safe? How can we keep our families safe?”
In such cases, courts must weigh a suspect’s youth against chilling allegations as they seek fair punishments for those convicted. Here’s a look at other recent cases involving teen suspects:
Police say a 15-year-old boy enticed a 12-year-old neighbor out of her home with a story about a missing cat that he needed help finding. She was found strangled shortly after. Prosecutors want to try the teen as an adult on an aggravated murder charge. Defense attorneys, however, have questioned whether their client understands the proceedings, which could raise the possibility that he’s not competent to stand trial.
A New Jersey teen is serving a 17-year prison sentence in the death of a girl who went missing while trying to trade bike parts in the small town of Clayton in 2012. Family friends of the 12-year-old victim wanted a longer sentence for the boy, who was 16 at the time, convicted of killing her. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said it was a satisfactory outcome given boy’s age and developmental disabilities.
A 15-year-old girl who pleaded guilty in the 2009 death of a young neighbor wrote in her diary it was an “ahmazing” and “pretty enjoyable” experience. The 9-year-old victim was found buried in a wooded area west of Jefferson City. The teen is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole.
A Jacksonville teenager who pleaded guilty in the 2011 beating death of his 2-year-old half-brother is serving time in in juvenile detention until he turns 19 and will then serve eight years of probation under the terms of a plea deal with prosecutors. Authorities said the then-12-year-old had been home alone with the toddler when the younger boy suffered the fatal injuries, including a fractured skull.
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