Broward County prosecutors Friday showed compassion toward a 12-year-old boy accused of the fatal beating of a 17-month-old cousin, agreeing to charge him in juvenile court rather than the adult system.
The charge: second-degree murder.
As a result of the prosecutors' decision, should he plead guilty as expected, he'll get at most three years in a juvenile facility, followed by probation, rather than the possibility of decades in an adult prison.
The Lauderhill boy, whom the Miami Herald is not naming because of his age, was arrested on charges of first-degree murder in connection with the death of Shaloh Joseph, his second cousin. He is accused of beating the girl at her home Jan. 4 with a baseball bat because her crying interrupted his television program. Police said he was alone with the girl and his 10-year-old brother.
Earlier this month, Guerla Joseph, the boy's mother, told Broward Circuit Judge Charles Kaplan her son is innocent and that she was concerned about the boy's future, especially because he is locked up and not attending a regular school. He has been held in a juvenile facility since his arrest.
A plea to the charge could have come Friday, except a court-ordered competency test is incomplete.
The case been compared to that of Lionel Tate, a 12-year-old Broward boy who was charged with killing a 6-year-old playmate in 1999.
In Tate's case, he was charged in adult court with first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. The sentence, which fueled a major debate over the appropriate treatment of very young children charged with serious crimes, was vacated in the appeals process.