Eureka (Illinois, US): A 9-year-old, too young to be detained, or even to be tried in public, has been charged with causing a mobile home fire that killed three children and two adults near the village of Goodfield, about 240 km SW of Chicago.
This is the first child in the US to be charged with a mass killing for more than twelve years. Netizens all over the US are outraged over this. Gus Kostopoulos, a former prosecutor-turned-juvenile defence lawyer in Chicago, said that kids this young don't even know that people die and don't come back to life. Betsy Clark, President of Juvenile Justice Initiative, holds that children under 14 should never be prosecuted, no matter what the crime.
If convicted, the child would be placed on probation for at least 5 years but not beyond the age of 21 years. No other "sentence" would be possible unless the child is "tried as an adult". Therapy and counselling would be more likely.
No arrest warrant can be issued in the state for anyone under 10 years, no detention is permitted, and no public trial or jury trial, too. The case would at most go for a bench trial with a single judge.
Just last month, a judge has dismissed a murder charge against a 9-year-old who shot his mother fatally, since under Michigan Law, "the boy was presumed incompetent for trial because he is not yet 10"
How would anyone prosecute?
The major burden would be to prove intent to kill, just how it could be proved for a 9-year-old who does not know what death is, is beyond anyone's comprehension.
But why prosecute? The world wants to know.
Prosecuting Woodford County Attorney Greg Minger, however, did not mince any words on this aspect of the case.
Refusing to disclose any more details, he emphasized that the decision to prosecute was taken only after a detailed study of multiple reports of the fire. Coroner Tim Reustman said that the fire was started intentionally. Attorney Minger said that 'it is a tragedy, but at the end of the day, we had to charge this child for 'intentionally' executing what may be the most serious crime in our books.
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