YORK, SC — The Christmas presents for Joanne Pressley’s 11-year-old son are still wrapped and unopened.
“I cried all day Christmas,” Pressley said Friday. “My son wasn’t here. He had no Christmas. They took him from me. They got him in jail.”
Her son did not get Christmas presents because the boy, less than 5 feet tall and weighing about 115 pounds, is in juvenile detention in Columbia on a charge of attempted murder.
York police allege that Monday evening, Pressley’s son stabbed a 15-year-old who lives nearby with a steak knife. The knife was sticking out of the victim’s back when police found him lying on a sidewalk near U.S. 321, which leads south out of York.
A large crowd had gathered around the injured teen.
The victim identified Pressley’s son as the person who stabbed him, according to the police report from the incident. Soon afterward, the 11-year-old was found at his mother’s home in York’s “The Valley” neighborhood about two blocks from where the incident happened.
The police found Pressley crying and holding onto her son. The police then arrested the 11-year-old, handcuffed him, put him in a police car, and took him off to a juvenile jail.
“My son spent Christmas there,” Pressley said.
Because the victim and Pressley’s son are minors, their names have not been released. The victim was hospitalized. His family could not be reached on Friday.
Pressley said she prays for the victim to heal.
“I pray for him, but I pray for my son, too,” Pressley said. “He is just a child. He is 11 years old. (People) need to know about him getting hurt, too.”
Pressley said her son and the victim know each other and often hang around together, as they did much of the day Monday. More, Pressley said, her son was beaten up by the victim before the stabbing, possibly three times or more. After his arrest, her son was treated for injuries to his head, face, arm, and back.
“He was bullied – he had been jumped on several times,” Pressley said of her son.The police report from the incident states that when her son was arrested, Pressley told police he was a target of violence that day from the victim and other children and was defending himself.
But the incident report shows police officers told her that self defense “doesn’t give you the right to go and find somebody.”
The 11-year-old remains only accused. York police detectives who arrested him could not be reached Friday. Juveniles can be incarcerated after being convicted of crimes through age 21.
Because of his age, Pressley’s son is charged as a juvenile. The case will be prosecuted in Family Court, not adult criminal court. Cases are heard solely by a Family Court judge because there are no juries in Family Court.
Generally, when a juvenile is in detention, an emergency hearing must be held within 72 hours for a judge to determine if authorities can continue to hold the child in custody. York County Assistant Public Defender Stacey Coleman, the 11-year-old suspect’s lawyer, said Friday she talked with prosecutors and waived the 11-year-old’s emergency hearing.
Coleman said she wants to make sure her client receives a full medical evaluation at the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice. Additionally, Coleman said her office will conduct its own examination into what happened Monday that led to the stabbing.
The 11-year-old is being held at a detention center with other children younger than 16, Coleman said – not with adults. He is in a safe environment until the first hearing on his medical condition and competency on Jan. 7, Coleman said.
“We are investigating all possible aspects of this case,” Coleman said. “My client is 11 years old. He is a child.”
The child recovering from a stab wound spent Christmas in a hospital.