Court fight likely in 10-year-old girl’s homicide case

Litigation Regulations

When a 10-year-old Wisconsin girl was charged with homicide this week in the death of an infant, it was a rare — but not unprecedented — case of adult charges being filed against someone so young.

The girl told investigators she panicked after dropping the baby at a home day care and then stomped on his head when he began crying. She sobbed during a court appearance in Chippewa County, where she was led away in handcuffs and a restraint.

The age at which children get moved to adult court varies by state and can be discretionary in some cases.

Wisconsin is an outlier in that state law requires homicide or attempted homicide charges to be initially filed in adult court if the suspect is at least 10 years old, according to Marcy Mistrett, chief executive at the Campaign for Youth Justice.

Wisconsin is among 28 states that allow juveniles to be automatically tried in adult court for certain crimes, including murder. For most states, the age at which that is triggered is 15 or 16 years old — while some states have decided 10 is even too young for a child to be held responsible in the juvenile justice system, Mistrett said.

Moving a case to juvenile court depends on establishing certain factors, such as whether the child would get needed services in the adult system, said Eric Nelson, a defense attorney who practices in Wisconsin.

For example, prosecutors in an attempted murder case involving a 12-year-old schizophrenic girl who stabbed a classmate said she belonged in adult court, where she could be monitored for years for a disease that isn’t curable. Defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued against those claims.

Homicide cases involving 10-year-old defendants are extremely rare. From 2007 through 2016, 44 children aged 10 or younger were believed to be responsible for homicides in the U.S., according to data compiled by Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. Only seven of those children were girls.

In 2003, two 12-year-old boys fatally beat and stabbed 13-year-old Craig Sorger after they invited him to play in Washington state. Evan Savoie and Jake Eakin ultimately pleaded guilty in adult court and were sentenced to 20 years and 14 years in prison, respectively.

Related listings

  • Justice Beth Clement leading Supreme Court race

    Justice Beth Clement leading Supreme Court race

    Litigation Regulations 11/07/2018

    Michigan Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Clement is leading a six-candidate field for two seats on the state's highest court. Nearly 95 percent of votes have been counted. The top two finishers get black robes.Justice Kurtis Wilder and appellate lawy...

  • Trump visit stirs debate; massacre defendant in court

    Trump visit stirs debate; massacre defendant in court

    Litigation Regulations 10/31/2018

    The man charged in the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday, as some members of the Jewish community and others objected to President Donald Trump’s plans to visit, accusing him of contributing to a toxic ...

  • Court rules for investors in Volkswagen diesel suit

    Court rules for investors in Volkswagen diesel suit

    Litigation Regulations 10/24/2018

    A court in Germany has ruled that Volkswagen's parent company must pay 47 million euros ($54 million) in damages to investors for not making a timely disclosure of its scandal over cars rigged to cheat on diesel emissions tests.The dpa news agency re...

Any contracts or any transactions can go awry at any time

We know your business means a lot to you and want to understand all the aspects of your business so that we can help you in the best ways possible. We don’t discriminate depending on the size of your company. Our mission statement is to represent all business owners and entrepreneurs by navigating them through the rough waters of business litigation and guiding them to success.

We are attorneys who want to make sure we understand your business objectives and goals before we start providing you with legal counsel individualized to your business. We know what it means to be dedicated to your business. After all, we are a business as well. And just like you, we want to provide the best service we can to our clients.

Any contracts or any transactions can go awry at any time. Sometimes, making important business decisions without legal help from business attorneys could cost you your business.We don’t want you or your business to be misconstrued by anyone. Our attorneys make sure that we communicate with you often to make sure we are giving you the legal guidance you need at all times. We make sure we are responsive in a timely-manner with every single one of our clients to help them identify risks and prevent legal battles before they arise.