Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Court system likely to treat 11-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy differently

The boy and girl accused of setting a mother's bed on fire may have seen themselves as a couple. But they are likely to go separate ways in the legal system.

Florida's legal system is tough on youths accused of serious crimes — the state sends more juveniles to adult prisons than any other.

That could be the fate of the boy charged in this case, Jack Ault, 15.

At that age, if he is formally accused of a crime such as attempted murder or arson, prosecutors would have authority to treat him as though he were older. If so, his case would be transferred out of juvenile courts and into the court system used to try adults.

But the girl accused of trying to burn her mother is only 11. Even in Florida, charging such a young person as an adult would be rare, if not unprecedented. It would require a grand jury to indict her for a crime punishable by life imprisonment, such as attempted murder.

The investigation into the case is continuing, and no decision has been made on how to formally charge the two, Pinellas-Pasco Chief Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said.

Bartlett said the office has previously gone to a grand jury to indict someone under 14. He cited the case of Jose Walle, who was 13 at the time he pointed a gun at a St. Petersburg restaurant worker while an adult friend raped another worker on the kitchen floor. Walle, now 15, was sentenced earlier this month to 27 years in prison.

Bartlett said using the grand jury system allows "a cross-section of the community" to make the decision on whether a youth under 14 should he charged as an adult. But he couldn't offhand remember the last time that happened, before Walle.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Irene Sullivan, a veteran of the juvenile bench, said the juvenile system is geared toward rehabilitation, which is why she favors juvenile sanctions for youths in most cases.

"You don't get that rehabilitation in prison for a kid. They're not designed that way."

Court system likely to treat 11-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy differently 12/31/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 31, 2009 10:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump reveals that he didn't record Comey after all


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday he never made and doesn't have recordings of his private conversations with ousted former FBI director James Comey, ending a monthlong guessing game that he started with a cryptic tweet and that ensnared his administration in yet more controversy.

    President Donald Trump said Thursday that he didn’t record his conversations with James Comey.
  2. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick Friday night in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.
  3. Investigation Discovery TV show profiles 2011 Landy Martinez murder case


    The murder of a St. Petersburg man will be featured this week on a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery.

    Jose Adame sits in a Pinellas County courtroom during his 2016 trial and conviction for first-degree murder. Adame was convicted of first-degree murder last year for torturing and then executing his boyfriend as he pleaded for his life in 2011. Now it will be featured in a new true crime series Murder Calls on Investigation Discovery. The episode will air on June 26 at 9 p.m. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  4. Uhuru mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel protests exclusion from debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — Jesse Nevel, the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement candidate for mayor, on Thursday demanded that he be allowed to participate in a July 25 televised debate between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and challenger Rick Baker.

    Mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel holds a news conference outside the headquarters of the Tampa Bay Times on Thursday to protest his exclusion from the mayoral debate. Nevel is a member of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement.
  5. Lightning GM Steve Yzerman also has top-9 wing on his wish list

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Much has been made about the Lightning's interest in bolstering its blue line, even after last week's acquisition of defense prospect Mikhail Sergachev.

    Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gestures as he speaks to the media about recent trades during a news conference before an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes Wednesday, March 1, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. The Lightning, over the past few days, have traded goaltender Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and forward Valtteri Filppula to the Philadelphia Flyers. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA101