Commonwealth's Attorney discusses charging juveniles as adults

A 13-year-old picked up over the weekend in connection with a murder in the Cherokee Triangle neighborhood. This was the fourth arrest in this case. The other three suspects just 15-years-old, some of the youngest suspects in recent months for such a vio

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Four teenagers have been arrested in connection with the murder in Cherokee Triangle on Nov. 5.

Officers say Jason Spencer was walking with his wife when he was shot and killed don Everett Avenue, a 13-year old was picked up over the weekend.

The other three suspects are just 15-years-old, some of the youngest suspects in recent months for such a violent crime.

So many people on social media are asking where are their parents?

That was a conversation WHAS11 News had with Tom Wine.

He tells us unless the adults were aware of what those minors allegedly had planned to do or if their guardians didn't lock up their firearms properly then they won't be charged.

Detectives have not said how the suspects allegedly got possession of the firearm.

The Commonwealth's Attorney Tom Wine says youthful offenders can be tried as an adult if they are 14 or older and charged with the use of a firearm during a felony, but that doesn't mean all three of the 15-year-olds’ cases will end up on his desk, "It would appear that at least one of them had a weapon and fired that weapon, that individual for sure should come to this office," Wine explained. 

The court process for a juvenile has layers, as we know, there's an entire separate system, the Department of Juvenile Justice. It starts with an arraignment, then a detention hearing and includes a pre-trial conference to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Wine adds, "This is not just a problem for one section of the community for one race for one gender, it’s a problem across the board." 

A hearing has to be held with the juvenile to determine probable cause to pursue charges as an adult and those factors include – the seriousness of the offense, maturity of the child, prior criminal record and other circumstances.

Wine's office will not see the case with the 13-year-old because of their age. 

He says curbing this problem starts at home.

"If you don't want them to end up on the wrong side of the law...or even worse, end up dead, then as a parent, you have got to stay on top of your kids."

So far in 2017, 15 juveniles have been arrested and charged with murder.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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