Defense wants 12-year-old's homicide case back in juvenile court

Milwaukee County prosecutors charged a 10-year-old boy with homicide more than a year-and-a-half ago.

The boy is now 12, and his case is still being fought to return the case to juvenile court, and the boy's defense team is also set to challenge the process altogether.

Prosecutors say the boy shot and killed his mother because he couldn't have a virtual reality headset.

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Milwaukee mother killed, son accused wanted virtual reality headset

A 10-year-old boy is now charged as an adult with first-degree reckless homicide for allegedly fatally shooting his mother on Monday, Nov. 21. This, after she would not allow him to purchase an Oculus Virtual Reality Headset from Amazon.

On Monday, June 24, testimony continued as the defense fought to return the boy's case to juvenile court, while also asking the court to dismiss the adult court charge or find that the process is unconstitutional.

The 12-year-old boy sat scribbling on paper with a pen as his defense attorneys took testimony from state corrections employees.

It's part of what's called the reverse wavier process, as the boy's defense team wants the court to send the adult case back to juvenile court.

The accused boy

"Is there a scoring mechanism that's used during this classification process?" asked defense attorney Angela Cunningham.

"There is. And that's the instrument for custody classification you're referring to, yes," answered Department of Corrections Section Chief Kristi Zueke.

That includes deciding where an adult is placed in certain prisons, programming and health needs, and for how long, including youths sentenced as adults, and spending time at Lincoln Hills until at least 18 years of age or possibly older.


"If they don’t do well, if they don't meet expectations, they could -- conceivably -- be at Lincoln Hills until their 25th birthday?" asked defense attorney Tanner Kilander.

"They could, we wouldn't like that. But yes, they could potentially be," replied Casey Garber, Officer of Juvenile Offender Review Director.

State law requires that when children ten or older are charged with homicide, adult court has original jurisdiction.

The boy's been in custody since the November 2022 shooting.

"I will order the state to provide an offer to the defendant to resolve the case, before any decisions are made by anybody," said Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jane Carroll.

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They'll be back in court on Tuesday, as the court will also consider hearing arguments on a new defense motion.

The defense wants the court to grant the reverse waiver back to juvenile court and dismiss the first-degree intentional homicide charge, or find that the benchmarks juvenile defendants must meet, to return an adult case to juvenile court, are unconstitutional.