PA Judge Rules 12 Year Old Should be Tried as Adult for Murder

Via Sentencing Law and Policy comes the story of Jordan Brown. Jordan is 12 years old. When he was 11, prosecutors say he took his shotgun and killed his pregnant stepmother while she was in bed, then left for school. The theory seems to be he was mad he lost his bedroom to make way for the new baby. He had no prior contact with the criminal justice system and had always been a polite, typical kid. Even today, the doctors say there is no sign of mental illness.

Jordan's father and family friends are standing by Jordan. They, and his lawyer, say Jordan is innocent.

A judge in Pittsburgh ruled this week that Jordan should be tried as an adult. If convicted, he will be the youngest person in the nation sentenced to life without parole. [More...]

Judge Dominick Motto, in his ruling, determined that Jordan could not be rehabilitated in 9 years (the juvie system would release him at 21.) How did the judge look into the future and arrive at this conclusion? Principally by considering the effect of the deaths on the community and family and, get this, Jordan's refusal to confess. The opinion is here.

This is just plain wrong. No one, juvenile or adult, is required to confess -- particularly before trial. The impact of the crime on the community has nothing to do with whether the juvenile can be rehabilitated, which should be the principal factor in the determination of where he should be tried. No child should be locked up in prison for life at 12 years old. It's costly, cruel and foolish.

More on Jordan from the CNN article linked above:

At the time of the slaying, Jordan was a chubby fifth-grader with dark brown hair and an energetic smile. He liked riding bikes and reading Harry Potter books. Since the third grade, he played quarterback in his community's football league.

Family and friends describe him as an "all-American boy." On weekends, Jordan hunted alongside his father, Chris Brown, who purchased the youth-sized 20-gauge shotgun state police believe was the murder weapon. The gun was given to Jordan as a present for Easter, and the boy's lawyers say he only used it for hunting.

Children's brains function differently than adults. The judge engaged in little more than rank speculation in finding he could not be rehabilitated in 9 years. Dr. Paul Friday, a clinical psychologist, had this to say:

Dr. Friday says an 11-year-old's brain is not capable of effective thought. He says effective thought does not come until the age of 25 and over.

"Will Jordan think at the age of 25 like he is now? No. Will he be able to differentiate good, bad, right, wrong, guilt or innocence at 25 better than now? Absolutely," explains Friday. "Are we sure that Jordan will not get insight into what he did? No we're not."

The judge also wrote in his decision that Brown refused to take responsibility for the crime which is believed necessary for rehabilitation.

"To say that he has no chance for rehabilitation would be a very difficult thing for another human being to say because the future at best is a probability," Friday said.

Alternet has more. Jordan is not the only child in this predicament. 2,500 kids in the U.S. are serving life without parole for offenses committed before they were 18. It's a violation of human rights laws.

Bad decision, bad precedent. I hope the Jordan's lawyers can appeal the decision before trial. Here's the website set up for Jordan. From the factual background:

Kenzie had received death threats from a former boyfriend in the months before her murder—a lead the police inexplicably have not taken seriously, relying instead on a dubious and unreliable statement from Jordan’s younger step-sister.

About Jordan:

He had no motive to commit such an ugly and terrible act. He loves Kenzie and her daughters; there were no “blended family” problems as has been irresponsibly speculated in the media.

Jordan participates in school sports, likes reading books, and hunts with his dad. He attends summer bible camp. Jordan’s an all-American kid just like most parents hope to raise.

He is a kind, gentle, and honest boy who has consistently denied having committed the crime. It is shameful that this defenseless child has become the victim of inadequate police work, prosecutorial political ambitions, and a media feeding frenzy.

Here are some statements of support by those who know Jordan. Jordan's defense team is working pro bono. If you want to contribute, you can do so here.

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    what next (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Jen M on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 07:14:58 AM EST
    trying a 9 year old as an adult? How low will they go?

    This is wrong. Children are physically different in body and brain. A pre-teen is really different.

    I wonder if this judge is close to re-election?

    Question for thought (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 07:53:15 AM EST
    What is your stance on parental notification laws? How about contraception for teens?  I ask because many people think it's ok to treat teens as adults on those situations, even though their brains aren't fully developed. Why is it ok to consider them adults with some possibly life changing decisions, but not with others?

    The problem with parental notification (5.00 / 6) (#8)
    by cawaltz on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:29:33 AM EST

    I don't see the situations as interchangeable because people who believe in offering a teen birth control aren't doing so because they believe a teen is the same as an adult. On the contrary, they do so because they believe a teen belongs being protected from the adult consequences of engaging in sexual behavior. Furthermore, they do so because it is a health issue. Young female teens are even more likely to have children that are at risk and teens are more likely to have difficulty during childbirth because while they may have a willing uterus their body lacks the vitamin stores needed and their physical bodies are not through becoming fully grown. In this case, we are acknowledging they are not fully grown and are not condoning behavior instead we are chosing the course that provides the greatest sum of protection for a child and the potential child that could result.


    Not to mention the fact (5.00 / 2) (#19)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:13:32 AM EST
    that it is not infrequently the case that these teens are being sexually abused by their own parent/s or with the knowledge and consent of their own parent/s.  In an given situation, it's impossible to know for sure whether or not that's the case because the kids very frequently won't tell on the adults in their family.

    I get all that (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:56:30 AM EST
    But I still think that especially with parental notification, it is exactly the same thing.  While some girls ate abused and raped, my guess is, in the large majorit of term pregnancies, abuse and rape are not the reason. In those cases, many people here seem to be okay with the notion that a 12 or 15 year old girl is mature enough and has a cognitive reasoning that is fully developed enough to make the decision to have an abortion (which many people also consider the taking of a life). Buy if that same 12 or 15 year old got a him and walked down the hall and shot and killed someone, then those same people would argue that they shouldn't be held responsible because they don't have the cognitive maturity to understand the consequences of their actions.  Like I said, this isn't as easy a call as some would like it to be.  We can't have it both ways,

    You're the one who's making (5.00 / 3) (#45)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:02:42 PM EST
    it easier than it is.  What you don't get is that "cognitive reasoning" plays little to no part in teenage sexual behavior, and oftentimes it isn't even done with any kind of consent.  You can't even force such girls to stay pregnant and have babies.  Since time immemorial, women and girls have been finding ways to end a pregnancy if they're desperate enough, and those are mostly pretty ugly ways.

    What this smacks of to me is the desire to punish girls for having sex -- even if the sex was involuntary -- by requiring them to stay pregnant.

    There's no logic in your position on this at all.


    What person here has argued (5.00 / 3) (#55)
    by cawaltz on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 02:41:37 PM EST
    that a 12 to 15 year old girl has the cognitive reasoning of an adult?

    I've never seen that arguement at all.

    I've seen the arguement that a 12-15 year old girl should have the means to get an abortion. Again, it is done so for HEALTH reasons. A 12-15 year old's body undergoing pregnancy puts both that 12-15 year old's life in jeopardy as well as the lives of the child produced. While their uteruses are capable of producing life the mother (that 12-15 year old)is still using her own vitamin stores to grow.

    Whether the sex was consensual or non consensual (and let's be clear there are plenty of perverts out there who will go to bed with a 12-15 year old and then plead dumb as to their age)my position is that a 12 year old or a 15 year old should not be forced to risk her life to produce a baby. And whether or not ANOTHER person believes abortion is murder has absolutely no bearing whatsoever to me. If it isn't your body then you don't get to force someone to take the risks involved in taking a pregnancy to term(that's my personal opinion on it). Taking the life of a sentient being capable of life without draining anothers of valuable and vital nutirents is nowhere near the same as eliminating a potential life that at present time can not survive without a woman's vitamin stores or body. (and I say that as a woman who has brought 5 children into the world, each of my own accord).


    Hear, hear (none / 0) (#15)
    by Rojas on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:18:52 AM EST
    This is not a complex logical construct so I fail to see the mystery. You nailed it.

    what catwaltz said (5.00 / 4) (#34)
    by Jen M on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:33:13 AM EST
    throwing out the entire life of someone who wasn't even a teenager is different from making sure people who are five years or so older than this kid know how to get protection.

    This is a child.

    As for parental notification I admit I am torn. Good parents need to be told, abusive parents must not be told, who tells the difference and how?  I tend to err on the side of the child.


    that's off topic (none / 0) (#42)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 12:14:17 PM EST
    please don't hijack the thread

    No kidding on kids (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:14:53 AM EST
    I think of the many things we've been through with our oldest.  We had to face that she was going to have a very dramatic almost traumatic maturing and it was going to be slower.  Joshua looks to be very different though, more like my husband....who seems to have had his brain mature much more quickly.  I did not marry my oldests father.  We had broken up when I discovered I was pregnant.  He was just too damned unpredictable and at times an emotional powder keg, I couldn't figure him out and I did not feel I could trust him.  The male brain matures slower than the female does in human beings though, and I look back now and I think he was on the tailend of all that chaos.  When we had to learn how to contend with our oldest (my husband and she adopted each other) and things were completely crazy, finally doctors began asking questions about how the bio parents matured and boom, there it was.  My daughter's biological father came through it all eventually and now has a family and a lot of stability that he has built for himself, and I suppose that we should be thankful to have a daughter in this situation because I do now see her moving out of that chaos.  It is rocky at times, but the progress of maturing and the change is there now and undeniable.

    Agree 100% (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Lora on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 07:44:28 AM EST
    It's wrong on so many levels.  I'm not sure which is the most egregious wrong, but I think that for a judge to assume guilt before a trial has to be up there in the running for the #1 slot.

    I don't think it's that simple (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by jbindc on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 07:44:51 AM EST
    This is a tough question. While kids' brains aren't fully developed,  those who commit horrendous crimes shouldn't be allowed to walk away without consequences. I will bet that everyone here on this board knew at 12 years old that it was wrong to plan and carry out the murder of someone with a shotgun.

    I'm not sure what the answer is, but I know it isn't as black and white as some want to make it.

    I am not sure (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:02:36 AM EST
    that we can lump all maturing brains into one group of knows better just because most of us on this blog knew better at twelve.  I have a branch of my family that has problems with epilepsy and they also have problems wetting their bed in their sleep too until around the age of twelve as well.  It has been a horrible thing to grow through for all of them, and thank God I never had to contend with that....but it has to do with certain areas of their brain being much slower to mature than the rest of us.  And I know that dogs aren't people, but they are mammals, and of the different lines among the same breed that I own there are vast differences in the rate of maturity due to the genetics of different lines. And it is extremely obvious because of the rate that dogs grow at.  Some of the differences in rates of differeng maturing processes are startling from that perspective.

    He'd be locked up for (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by cawaltz on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:33:14 AM EST
    11 years. I don't really call that no consequences. Now, is 11 years worth the life of an individual. No but neither is locking up an 11 year old for life either. It certainly doesn't bring the young woman or her child back.

    The fact that we can not bring them back (none / 0) (#11)
    by nyjets on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:46:45 AM EST
    Maybe the fact that we can not bring back the young woman is why we should treat this kid harshly if he is convicted.

    At this point (5.00 / 1) (#56)
    by cawaltz on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 02:48:54 PM EST
    we don't even know for sure if he IS guilty. He's certainly never confessed guilt.

    And if we were to somehow assume he was guilty(which technically we are SUPPOSED to be assuming the opposite)I think we'd have to take into account his ability to reasonn.

    Heck at his age most people would be hesitant to use him in court as a witness because 10 is just barely the age humans start to understand the difference between concrete thinking and abstract thinking, or spatial relationships and a whole host of different reasoning skills adults have.


    Yeah! (none / 0) (#16)
    by Faust on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:34:09 AM EST
    Revenge! Feels good!



    You can call it revenge. (none / 0) (#52)
    by nyjets on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:55:42 PM EST
    In my opinion, if this kid is guilty, locking him up would be justice.

    Nobody gets off the planet alive (5.00 / 1) (#69)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 10:17:24 AM EST
    NOBODY....therefore it is precious little more than revenge in this situation IMO.  It isn't about consequences.  This kid's frontal lobe hasn't even come in and that is actually when we can FULLY process adult consequences if we are ever able (some people are not).  The average age for the frontal lobe becoming THAT mature is around 23 years of age.

    How is it justice (none / 0) (#64)
    by jaolson on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 05:21:01 PM EST
    to assume that a 12 year old boy can't be rehabilitated and become a productive member of society in the future?

    One person has already lost their lives.  Why make it two?


    It does not matter (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by nyjets on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 05:52:44 PM EST
    IMO, whether or not he can be 'rehabilitated' is not relevant. He may have murdered a woman in cold blood. By letting him become 'a productive member of society' you essentially let him get away with murder.

    Two points here ... (none / 0) (#77)
    by nyrias on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 02:07:30 PM EST
    1. I agree that a 12 yr old boy is not an adult. It is probably more appropriate to NOT treat him as such. How about to reconvene a psy panel and decide if he can be rehabilitated when he is 25? It is also wrong to automatically assume he CAN be rehabilitated and let him out at 21.

    2. If it is an adult who did this, i have no problem making it two lives instead of one. Not all lives are valuable.

    Punishment wouldn't bring back .. (none / 0) (#76)
    by nyrias on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 02:04:20 PM EST
    anyone who was murdered.

    Shall we forget all the victims and just let all the murderers walk just because "we could not bring the victims back"?


    It's was black and white for (5.00 / 2) (#12)
    by Rojas on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:50:02 AM EST
    a hundred years.
    Another example of reactionaries "fixing" something that wasn't broke.

    Tough on crime strikes again (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by mmc9431 on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:23:29 AM EST
    If an eleven year old is capable of making adult decisions then this judge must also advocate that eleven year olds should be allowed to marry, vote, drive a vehicle, sign a legal contract and all the other things that we reserve for "adults".

    I don't advocate that he be allowed to walk away from his actions. (Kids can sometimes react rather than think). We have a system in place for dealing with juvenile justice. Use it.

    Maybe this judge was one of the ones in PA that were getting kick back money from the privatized prisons! How much would a life time sentence for an eleven year old be worth?

    PA judges (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by Merle on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:01:19 AM EST
    are not all crooks.  This judge was not one of the ones taking kickbacks, and I think your gratuitous slur was offensive.

    True (none / 0) (#29)
    by squeaky on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:20:01 AM EST
    But it does take a lot of imagination to try to understand how a judge, no less a grown and educated adult member of our society, can try    11 year old as an adult.

    SOmething is desperately wrong with this picture...  I think mmc9431' conjecture was relatively kind, considering the other explanations one could imagine for such insane behavior.  


    Pretty easily (none / 0) (#39)
    by Makarov on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:57:46 AM EST
    In PA, judges are elected.

    Well (none / 0) (#40)
    by squeaky on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 12:05:08 PM EST
    Not all of us enjoy your proximity and familiarity to such mentally deficient voters..  

    IOW, what may be easy for you to imagine, is unfathomable for many here.


    And where lies this land of the enlightened? (none / 0) (#41)
    by Rojas on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 12:09:57 PM EST
    Enlightened? (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by squeaky on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:15:01 PM EST
    Not sure where you come from, but where I come from it is not considered enlightened behavior to treat an 11 year old as a juvenile, it is considered normal.  

    The problem with juvenile justice (none / 0) (#10)
    by nyjets on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 08:45:20 AM EST
    The problem with juvenile justice is that kids,espically those accused of murder, are treated to easily. Look at this case. He has been accused of murdering his stepmother by shotgun and then making some attempts to hide the crime. If convicted as a juvenile he will server less than 10 years. That is a slap on the wrist in this situation. And the only mitgating factor is his age.
    I grant you that for some kid murderers, that may be okay ie a child murders a person who has been abusing them. But not in every case, like this one.

    not his age, his cognitive ability. (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:02:53 AM EST
    At 11, at 12, up to even 16-18, children's brains don't function the same way adult brains function. this isn't pseudoscience or gibberish, its demonstrable. Thinner white matter is one of the physiological aspects, while the lack of life experiece, ie socialization, is another.

    As to a 'slap on the wrist,' at age 21, this child will understand the ramifications of what he did, and will doubtless feel remorse (I can't guarantee the remorse, but unless the child is borderline personality or a psychopath, he'll feel remorse). 12 year olds aren't adults and shouldn't be treated as such. they are physiologically different in brain structure. This isn't justice, it's a form of child abuse.

    The thought that adolescents and teens make rational adult decisions and should be held to that standard is akin to people who say pit bulls are a 'vicious breed' and the breed should be exteriminated. Both are woefully incorrect.


    The thing is I never bought that (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by nyjets on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:55:03 PM EST
    The thing is I have never bought the notion that the kid does not know what he or she is doing is wrong.
    I am willing to grant you that in some cases, that MIGHT be the case. BUt in many cases, like this one,  I feel that the kid knows what they are doing is wrong and does not care.
    All of these studies are generalization. Not every kid thinks the same way (I have noticed how some kids are more mature than other at age 11).

    PA Judges (none / 0) (#68)
    by jondee on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:12:34 PM EST
    dont seem to be able to distinguish between children and adults much better than PA priests do.

    Something in the water?



    The point (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Lacy on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:06:18 AM EST
    The point about youngsters who commit crimes is self-evident, but why do you cloud that with distortions about the case facts?  The kid was seen by the deceased's little girls hiding the shotgun that morning (in his blanket from his room, and through which the fatal shot was fired,) they heard the bang, saw him run from the house, where a friend saw him pull a shotgun shell from his jacket and throw it down....and which authorities found it at that very spot. There really is no serious question as to who did it.

    So why play adversarial games?

    apparently there is a serious question (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 12:16:01 PM EST
    as to who did it. Please go to another site if you want to declare people guilty before trial.

    Is there serious question? (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by smott on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 02:25:52 PM EST

    I live in Pgh and of course this case has been in the news here quite a bit.

    My understanding is while the evidence is circumstantial, it does strongly implicate Jordan.

    This occurred after a fresh snow and the only tracks leading from the house were Jordan's and his 7-yr old step sister, who stated that she heard a loud bang, amd minutes later as they walked to the bus saw him throw something from his pocket. State Police later discovered in the area, a "pristine" shell from the 20-gauge Berretta Youth shotgun (a christmas present to Jordan from his Dad), which had been recently fired, and which has been shown via autopsy evidence recovered from Houk's body to be the murder weapon. They have a blanket with a quarter-sized hole in it, they have shotgun residue on Jordan's shoulder. There are statements from Houk's family that he threatened his stepmother and her daughter.

    Now - there are also statements from Brown's family that she may have been killed by her ex-boyfriend - but again there were no tracks in the snow surrounding the house to suggest anyone but Jordan and his sister were in the area.  So it would seem to be either him, the 4yr old asleep upstairs, or the 7 year old....

    There are no laws in PA to really handle this - they were required to charge him and hold him in the county jail, but some finagling got him moved to a secure juvenile detention center, thank goodness. And I can't imagine an 11-yr-old's brain really can form legal intent...or understand consequences and so on.

    But if the details as the police describe them are true (he first went downstairs with 2 guns, the 7-yr old saw him, he went back up to his room, covered the shotgun with the blanket to conceal it, came back down, killed Houk, back upstairs to put the shotgun back on the wall, tossed the shell as he walked to the schoolbus with the 7-yr old...)  Well, it's chilling.

    Still - no idea how best to deal with this legally. You can't just say someone is beyond rehabilitation already at the age of 12.  And the judge's mention of "taking responsibility" is nonsense IMO....

    It's a mess.


    Is there a fourth way? (5.00 / 2) (#17)
    by EL seattle on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:34:15 AM EST
    Isn't the assumption that a juvenile can be rehabilitated by their 21st birthday based on speculation, too?  Is there a category similar to mental illness that allows "sane" juveniles who are found to be guilty of serious violent crimes to be held until they are determined to be rehabilitated, even if that means holding them past their 21st birthday?    

    I agree that young brains work differently than mature adult (approx. age 25+) brains.  But I don't know if we understand everything about how they work at this point.  It might be good if there was an option other than "catch and release at age 21" for young people who are convicted of  violent crimes.  

    Well ya' know... (none / 0) (#18)
    by Rojas on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 09:41:37 AM EST
    it's no absolute guarantee, but if someone does not re-offend while serving their sentence in a juvenile program it's a pretty good indicator...

    Agreed entirely (none / 0) (#20)
    by gyrfalcon on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:17:47 AM EST
    it's this mandatory release at 21 that causes so many kids to end up being tried as adults.

    I think the 'expert'... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:34:24 AM EST
    ... who claims that 'effective thought' isn't acheived until the age of 25 is not helpful to the argument. I do favor trying minors as adults in some cases, but 11 years old is far too young.

    Agreed. 25 is a little old-- evidence (none / 0) (#25)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:06:38 AM EST
    exists for 17/18-22 time frame. Oh well, Im arguing science, and this is about law. Congress itself decided the tomato was a vegetable in the early 20th century. Sigh.

    It is different for each person (none / 0) (#70)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 10:27:25 AM EST
    and understanding the social consequences of various acts evolves over time.  You don't just wake up one morning and the book of answers falls out of the sky and hits you in the head.  Most would fully understand the life and social consequences they have exposed themselves to by killing another human being in this culture by 17/18.  And you must also acknowledge "this culture" because killing another human being at that age was a "good thing" for Saddam. But they will not understand or have the ability to process social consequences in deeper layers of the social onion, such as why you should not have sexual relations with another minor younger than yourself in of a whole differing array of ages based on which state you live in........unless you want to completely destroy your life.

    Would like to see the PA statutes (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 10:55:47 AM EST
    specifying the criteria for trying a juvenile as an adult.  All I have found so far is circumstances of the crime and whether the juvenile is amenable to juvenile court goal of rehabilitation.  Also, does PA, as CA does, have a statutory framework for sentencing a juvenile to juvenile facility until a certain age and subsequent placement at adult corrections?

    To me, there is one very obvious, (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:14:16 AM EST
    very large issue that no one has yet mentioned here:  why does an 11 year old have a gun?

    Stupid father.

    Jr. size shotgun. Dad and son hunted (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:16:55 AM EST
    together.  Better question:  why were the gun and ammo not under lock and key and inaccessible to the son?

    OK, I'll take that. (none / 0) (#28)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:18:49 AM EST
    Answer is same:  stupid father.

    *parents. Mom could have locked it (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:21:01 AM EST
    up also. Tragedy averted. Temper tantrum over with maybe something broken.

    Fair enough. (5.00 / 3) (#33)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:29:38 AM EST
    But my understanding was that the shotgun was purchased by the father for hunting - so my conclusion is that it was his responsibility to be responsible about guns in the house.

    Stupid AND irresponsible father. Maybe he is the one who should be locked up.


    Lock 'em all up (5.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Rojas on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:37:59 AM EST
    Make the best use of a tragic situation.
    Authoritarians are entitled to a sense of empowerment, justice be damned.

    Hyperbolic much? (5.00 / 1) (#38)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:46:08 AM EST
    It was a simple point:  trying the child as an adult seems a bit odd when, in my opinion, the irresponsible parent is at least as much to blame.

    Knee jerk much? (5.00 / 2) (#74)
    by Rojas on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 08:03:02 AM EST
    I suppose you would have the same view if the alleged murder weapon was an aluminum baseball bat or a Bic lighter? Seems to me you are finding culpability when empathy is the appropriate response.

    Hmmm, I don't think he's (none / 0) (#35)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:36:11 AM EST
    be getting off scot-free on this one. A dead spouse and future child, a child in custody. Criminal negligence?

    I have weapons in my house, and, when married with little ones around, kept them locked up. The wife unit knew how to lock them up also, though.

    No, not blaming the victim here. It's sad that such a simple solution, a trigger lock, could have prevented this.

    Disclaimer, I had been hunting by 12, but I didn't get my 'own' shotgun until 13 or 14. I did get to keep it in my room, also.


    Not sure why you're arguing. (5.00 / 1) (#37)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:44:39 AM EST
    In this particular case, the father was the primary parent in the house and also in charge of the guns. If it had been the mother, then she would be the one I'd call stupid and irresponsible.

    This is hardly the first tragedy involving a gun and a child that could have been prevented by an adult responsible about guns.


    My boys share a gun as well (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by cawaltz on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 04:01:11 PM EST
    they got it for Christmas. The ammunition for the guns is locked up. The gun is put up for when they have adult supervision. Even the 17 year old doesn't get to access it on a whim. Our thought process is the gun laws themselves require you to be of a certain age before you can purchase them. If you aren't old enough to purchase one on your own then you don't belong having access to it without the adult supervision of the person who purchased it. It definitely was an irresponsible decision for this child to be given carte blanche access to a weapon.

    Mom didn't live there. Future stepmother (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:26:51 AM EST

    then future stepmother. (none / 0) (#32)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 11:28:31 AM EST
    many kids are taught to hunt (none / 0) (#44)
    by Jeralyn on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 12:16:58 PM EST
    His father is a former military policeman.

    Sure (5.00 / 2) (#49)
    by Dr Molly on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:46:44 PM EST
    But responsible parents should not leave guns and ammunition around the house unlocked when there are children around.

    Per the father (none / 0) (#54)
    by smott on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 02:28:35 PM EST
    Jordan was " a good little shot"...recently won a Turkey-shoot contest at Thanksgiving, and Dad got him the Beretta Youth model 20-gauge for Christmas...

    So, has the church changed the (5.00 / 4) (#46)
    by oldpro on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:11:50 PM EST
    'age of reason' from 7...?

    Just wondering.

    The accused kid went to bible camp where there was presumably discussion of the big ten, right and wrong, good and evil, etc. etc.  Hard to imagine an 11-yr old who didn't clearly know the basics unless they were well behind their peers in development...or slow-witted.

    What grabs my attention is how quickly folks seem to be making up their minds about this kid...about his guilt or innocence, based on so little information...mostly from news stories!

    I sure as Hell wouldn't want most of you on MY jury!

    Thanks, oldpro... (none / 0) (#48)
    by jeffinalabama on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:44:37 PM EST
    I had accepted as fact that he did it, without thinking about the serious doubt involved, or the justice system.

    Boy do I feel embarrased.


    Sometimes a little nap on a (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by oldpro on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 03:38:55 PM EST
    Saturday afternoon can be so refreshing, don't you find?

    Parantal negligence (5.00 / 3) (#50)
    by wavzesos on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 01:47:47 PM EST
    My title is Parental negligence but should be Paternal negligence.
    It's just better judgment to fundamentally understand either with or without children's, always keep guns and ammunitions lock up.

    Talk about criminal behavior... (5.00 / 2) (#58)
    by lentinel on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 03:30:12 PM EST
    His father gave the boy a "youth-sized" 20-gauge shotgun as an Easter present.

    If that isn't criminal, it should be.

    He's a child (5.00 / 2) (#63)
    by Inspector Gadget on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 05:20:14 PM EST
    I'm fascinated by the discussion of what kind of punishment he deserves and whether or not being imprisoned until 21 is adequate as a "time out" for him. First, I have no idea what to think about this case it is so horrible.

    But, the reality is that our lock 'em up and throw away the key approach to people who have done something awful hasn't really shown itself to be effective. If this boy is found guilty, he needs some very compassionate therapy to get him to understand the magnitude of what happened. When that works, he will spend the rest of his life punishing himself.

    Most children really don't have a grasp on what death means. They see the adults mourn, and they really can't relate. For that reason alone, it would be difficult for a child to grasp the seriousness of what happened.

    I do not think a 12 year old should (5.00 / 2) (#65)
    by MO Blue on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 05:28:05 PM EST
    be tried as an adult.

    I do think that adults have the responsibility to lock up guns when there are children in the house.

    The fascinating aspect of this case... (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by mcl on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 04:33:39 AM EST
    ...Involves the huge number of commenters on other sites who immediately allege "This kid is a sociopath -- lock him up forever!"  It's absolutely amazing to see the huge number of Americans who immediately side with the prosecutors in cases like this.  It seems to be of a piece with the general public's eagerness to lick the boots of police who beat handcuffed suspects to death, shouting "There must be something more to that story," and "He must have done something to deserve it."  The exact same comments I've heard on other forums about this case.

    I find it absolutely fascinating that apparently no atrocity, no brutality, no sadistic torment inflicted by our police or our justice system, seems sufficient for the majority of Americans to declare, "Now, that's just not right, the justice system needs to be reformed."  No, if a police officer orders an innocent unarmed Iraq war vet out of his car face down on the ground and the vet complies and the officer shoots him in the back and kills him, why, that's just fine. The jury acquits him. "That vet must have done something to deserve it!"  And if a court decides that a kid must be tried as an adult and imprisoned for life without parole for a crime he committed at age 11, why, that's just fine too for most Americans, apparently. "There must be something more to the story!  That kid must be a stone cold killer, lock him up forever!  I don't ever want THAT monster back on the street!"

    And when, someday soon, the courts legalize public impalement?  Why, that will be just fine too for most Americans.  And when the courts rule that torture is legal and permissible to get confessions in ordinary crimes (it's already de facto legal for people alleged to be terrorists), why, that will be just dandy too.  Go ahead and torture that 5-year-old child, officer, she must have done something to deserve it.

    America has 5% of the world's criminals and 25% of the world prison inmates. But does that suggest something is wrong to most Americans? No indeedy, that's just fine 'n dandy to Joe Six Pack.  

    but (none / 0) (#73)
    by Jen M on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 06:14:26 AM EST
    they don't trust big government!

    Yeah (none / 0) (#75)
    by squeaky on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 10:47:24 AM EST
    Get rid of the courts! That should make big government a bit leaner...

    maybe the kid (none / 0) (#57)
    by Emma on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 03:26:57 PM EST
    didn't do it. maybe the ex-boyfriend did it.  which seems much more likely to me. seems like the better question really is why aren't the cops looking into all the possibilities for who killed this woman?  some weird patriarchal sh*t going on here, IMO.

    Maybe (none / 0) (#59)
    by smott on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 03:35:35 PM EST
    But there is nothing to suggest he was even in the area...the fresh snow/footprints seem to suggest no one was there but the kids. Plus the ex- would have to know about, retrieve, shoot the 20-gauge all without anyone noticing him...and without leaving footprints. It's thin.

    Confessing (none / 0) (#61)
    by Manuel on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 03:45:58 PM EST
    I sort of see the point.

    Assuming he is guilty and were able to acknowledge his actions, it would seem more likely that the matter could be handled in the juvenile system.

    If he is guilty and and denies the crime, he may well be a mentally ill individual who could pose a danger to society.  The juvenile system isn't set up well to handle mental illness.

    OTOH, If there is reasonable doubt wouldn't a jury adult trial be the best way to get at the truth?

    This is moot? (none / 0) (#67)
    by diogenes on Sat Apr 03, 2010 at 07:13:28 PM EST
    If he is found innocent, the it doesn't matter whether he is tried as a child or adult.  If he is found guilty, then an adult sentence will allow the governor to give him clemency if he is REALLY changed at age 21 while allowing the option of holding him in custody if he is not.
    If he is found guilty, then this is chillingly cold blooded; people with no qualms about killing family members are at risk to repeat (as Amy Bishop who killed her brother and years later went on the shooting spree at the Alabama university).

    A guest on WNYC said the death penalty used so (none / 0) (#71)
    by jawbone on Sun Apr 04, 2010 at 02:25:16 PM EST
    freely makes it easier to create laws which mandate harsh, long sentences for any number of crimes.

    I'm assuming it's also can have that effect on the management of children's crimes.

    I can't believe this is happening in Pennsylvania. Way too close for psychic comfort.

    Comment deleted that (none / 0) (#78)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Apr 05, 2010 at 03:15:42 PM EST
    used overly explicit words.