You’ve likely heard the phrase: “tried as an adult”. This happens often to teenagers who commit heinous crimes against either their parents or other children. As it happens, the youngest person ever to be sentenced to life in prison was Lionel Tate at the age of 13. He was convicted right here in Florida after stomping a 6-year-old girl to death. Tate had the sense to lie about what happened. He came up and told his mother, who was babysitting him and his victim, Tiffany Eunick. Tate told his mother that he and Eunick were wrestling and she had hit her head on the table. An investigation revealed that Tate had stomped on her so hard that he lacerated her liver.
However, he is not the youngest person to be tried as an adult in Florida. That dubious record is held by Catherine and Curtis Jones, a brother and sister who killed their father’s girlfriend, Nicole Speights. Curtis Jones was 12 years old at the time. They were released from prison in 2015.
It’s hard to forget the young girl who were tried for the “Slender Man” attempted murder of a classmate in 2013. The girls were 12 and 13 at the time of the attack and were tried as adults. One girl was sentenced to 40 years in a psychiatric forensic ward and the other was given 25 years. Both were considered a danger to others.
Jordan Brown was 11 years old when he was charged with the killing his father’s pregnant girlfriend. The case took place in Pennsylvania where the Innocence Project came to Brown’s defense. In 2016, the sentence was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court—not because of Jordan’s age—but because there was not enough evidence to convict him.
While there are many others, there is one more that should be taken note of as it pertains to the juvenile crime listed above. Cristian Fernandez, a 12-year-old Florida boy was charged as an adult in the murder of his 2-year-old brother. Prosecutors felt as though they had to try Fernandez as adult because they saw the crime as being premeditated.
Indeed, if premeditation is the basis on which prosecutors charge children as adults, then the two young girls who planned these horrific murders will be charged as adults as well.
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