In April, a 16-year-old Delaware girl died after being beaten and kicked in the head in her Wilmington high school's restroom by a group of girls. Several girls were charged with conspiracy in the incident, which was recorded on a cellphone. However, only one girl is also facing charges of criminally negligent homicide.
Now it's up to a judge to determine whether the 16-year-old defendant will be tried as an adult in superior court or a juvenile in family court. If she is tried in family court and found delinquent, she would be subject to community supervision. The judge says that he'll decide by the end of this week after attorneys have made their final written submissions.
Prosecutors Point to Lack of Remorse
If she's tried as an adult, the defendant could serve up to eight years behind bars for the attack that was reportedly planned over the course of nearly a full day. Prosecutors, who are arguing for that, point to the girl's lack of remorse when learning that her classmate had died.
The teacher who intervened in the attack reported that all of the girls were laughing as they left the restroom, where the victim was on the floor struggling to sit up. A medical examiner testified that the physical and emotional stress of the assault contributed to the death of the girl, who had a heart condition.
Psychologist Cites "Correctable Behavior"
Defense attorneys, however, called in a clinical psychologist to testify that the teen had been responding well to counseling. He said he found no evidence of personality disorders and considers her unlikely to commit violence in the future. He said in court, "We have the opportunity to intervene" to deal with what he termed "correctable behavior." The Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services is also arguing that the teen, who had no previous criminal record, be tried in Family Court.
The fatal attack was preceded by an online group chat the previous day that included the defendants and the victim regarding a boy, according to police.
When juveniles are accused of crimes like those involving the death of another person, a number of factors go into the decision of whether to try them as juveniles or adults. The difference in penalties can change the trajectory of the rest of their lives. Criminal defense attorneys can work to achieve the best outcome for young people facing serious criminal charges.
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