Most of you have probably heard about the sad case of the 11-year-old boy who shot and killed his father's pregnant girlfriend--it's been on the national news. The boy has been arrested and charged with criminal homicide, which in Pennsylvania means he is charged as an adult.
When I first heard about this, I felt sorry for the boy, wondering if they could charge him with a lesser offense so he wouldn't have to spend the rest of his life in jail. Did an 11-year-old even know what he was doing?
But as more facts are revealed, I've changed my mind. The boy allegedly covered his own shotgun with a blanket, went to the woman's bedroom and shot her in the head. He then put the gun and blanket back in his room, and He then ran to catch the school bus with the woman's seven year old daughter. As he headed for the bus, he tossed the spent shotgun shell. The district attorney stated, "He took the time to hide what he was doing."
As sad as it is, I can see why they've charged him as an adult. If he were to be charged as a juvenile in Pennsylvania, he could only be held until he's 21. The adult conviction would most likely commit him to prison for life. Could the boy be rehabilitated before he turns 21? Is that a chance anyone wants to take?
One of the difficulties authorities are facing is they basically have nowhere to house the boy. In Pennsylvania, there is no bail for anyone facing a criminal homicide charge. And since he's being charged as an adult, he can't be placed in a juvenile facility. The boy has to be kept isolated and away from the general jail population. In the rural county where he's being held there are no separate facilities for juveniles charged as adults, so authorities are looking for other counties with more experience with juveniles, like Allegheny County.
While I still feel sorry for the boy, I feel worse for the woman's family--and for the boy's father. I read that he keeps saying it had to be an accident. I can understand why he'd think that way. How could any parent admit that their baby could do something like that? The man has essentially lost his entire family--not only the woman he loved and their unborn child, but his son, too.
What do you think of this case? Do you agree that the boy should be charged as an adult? How should communities deal with children who commit heinous crimes, like murder? Can they be rehabilitated, or is there something basic wrong with them that can't be fixed?
Note: The boy is being moved to a juvenile facility. See here for details.