Judge orders SC boy, 11, held on murder charge

(Rock Hill) HeraldJanuary 7, 2014 

— A judge this morning ordered that the 11-year-old York boy accused of attempted murder in the Dec. 23 stabbing of a teen must remain in juvenile custody, saying the continued confinement of the child is for his own safety, as well as the safety of the victim and the community.

The defendant is believed to be the youngest person ever charged with attempted murder in York County, and possibly the state. The victim, 15, was stabbed in the back with a steak knife and spent a week in the hospital.

It also was revealed in court that the suspect has two pending juvenile court charges against him already, for disturbing schools and malicious damage to property. The child has been in trouble for at least two years, testimony showed, and his own mother testified that he has had behavior problems since age 5.

The suspect’s name and the victim’s name have not been released because of their ages.

During a detention hearing this morning, Family Court Judge Tony Jones described the incident as a “terrible situation” for the suspect and the victim.

“Everybody has a right to walk free in our schools, our parks, our community, and be free from bullying,” he said. “That does not justify commission of a violent crime.”

Jones ordered York police to look into allegations that the suspect had been beaten by the victim and had been bullied before the attack.

Before the stabbing, the suspect’s mother already had been under court order to make sure he attended school, but testimony today showed she was unable to follow through. She had even called police several times asking for help to make sure her child attended school.

Juvenile prosecutor Whitney Payne confirmed there had been a fight between the suspect and victim before the stabbing, but the suspect was taken home after the fight, then returned and attacked the victim.

“There was a break in the original fight, then the suspect went and got a weapon,” Payne said.

The suspect’s lawyer, assistant public defender Stacey Coleman, said the boy is a special needs student who has an emotional disability. An 11-year-old’s brain is not developed enough to help him make rational decisions, Coleman said.

“Young people act emotionally,” Coleman said.

Judge Jones ordered psychological testing to determine if the boy is mentally competent to face charges and whether he understands criminal responsibility.

The suspect did not speak in court, but he cried at the end of the hearing when the judge ruled he was staying in a juvenile jail until his competency is determined and another hearing is convened to see if he should be released pending the outcome of the case.

Although there has been no determination of guilt in this case, juveniles can be held until age 21 after convictions for violent crimes.

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