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In St. Pete murder case of boy, 13, judge emphasizes communication

Javarick Henderson Jr. appeared with his lawyers, wearing navy blue jail scrubs.
Pinellas-Pasco assistant public defender Stacey Schroeder, left, discusses a plea and waives arraignment for 13-year-old Javarick Henderson Jr., second from right, during a hearing before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley on Tuesday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
Pinellas-Pasco assistant public defender Stacey Schroeder, left, discusses a plea and waives arraignment for 13-year-old Javarick Henderson Jr., second from right, during a hearing before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley on Tuesday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes]
Published Jan. 7
Updated Jan. 7

LARGO — The 13-year-old boy accused of killing his grandmother appeared Tuesday in court, where a judge reminded lawyers of the importance of professionalism and communication.

Javarick Henderson Jr. entered the courtroom wearing a navy jail jumpsuit and joined his attorneys at a lectern facing Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley. A grand jury indicted Henderson last-month on a first-degree murder charge, moving his case from juvenile to adult court. He has pleaded not guilty.

"Good morning, Mr. Henderson,” she said.

"Good morning,” he said back.

“Same building as juvenile court,” the judge said. "Just a different courtroom and a different system. Okay?”

“Okay,” he said.

Related: Should a 13-year-old accused of murder be in the adult system?

Henderson, his public defenders and a prosecutor were there to discuss a motion filed by the defense compelling the state to provide discovery, or the documents, interview recordings and other records that make up evidence in the case.

Pinellas-Pasco Assistant State Attorney Amelia Hummel told the court she had only recently gotten back St. Petersburg police reports in the case and had sent them to the Public Defender’s Office Monday. Henderson’s chief public defender, Stacey Schroeder, said the office hadn’t received them yet.

Then Moate Ley jumped in.

“I am a strong believer in professionalism, and I have always admired the relationship between the State Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender’s office in this building,” she said. "I just think we need to treat this case like every other case in that we’re professional, we communicate directly with each other.”

Related: ‘I was baffled.' Mystery shrouds case of boy, 13, accused of killing grandmother
Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley discusses the case of 13-year-old Javarick Henderson Jr., who is accused of killing his grandmother, during a court hearing on Tuesday. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | TImes]

That would ensure business would be done to the benefit of the state’s case, and “to the benefit of this young man who needs everybody to look at all the options and see the best way to go.”

Henderson’s team ended up withdrawing the motion, with the door open to file again if any issues arise later. Henderson will appear in court again Feb. 3 for a standard pre-trial hearing.

Tuesday’s hearing wasn’t the first time the sides struggled with communication. What Public Defender Bob Dillinger called a “failure to communicate” between his office and the State Attorney’s Office contributed to Henderson’s Dec. 6 indictment and move to adult court.

One of his attorneys sent prosecutors a memo requesting more time to learn about the child’s mental health and background before indicting him. State Attorney Bernie McCabe read it as “almost an ultimatum," which Dillinger said, "wasn’t the intent at all.”

Henderson’s mother attended the hearing but declined to comment to a reporter.

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