MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee 10-year-old boy accused of shooting and killing his mother is charged as an adult.
It's because of state statutes. There are three crimes that apply, meaning if a kid 10 years old or older is charged by prosecutors with any one of them, the original court is adult court, but some defense experts say the law should be changed.
A 10-year-old boy appeared before a children's court judge Wednesday.
Prosecutors say the boy shot and killed his mother at their home near 87th and Hemlock Nov. 21. He was initially placed with family after the incident, but they called police the next day with concerns about the story and say that he has rage issues. Police say the boy later told them his mom wouldn't let him have a virtual reality headset and that he retrieved the gun because he was mad at her, and he ordered the headset the day after his mom's death.
The boy is charged as an adult, but the judge has ordered identifying information kept from the public for the time being. FOX6 is not naming the boy because of his age.
"Ten-year-old children don’t understand legal proceedings. Full stop. Period," said Jessa Nicholson, criminal defense attorney.
Nicholson said attorneys should try and have the boy's case brought back into juvenile court. Cases against kids 10 years old or older can start out in adult court if they're charged with three crimes: First-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree intentional homicide.
"I think this mandatory waiver really starts us off contrary to the goals of the juvenile justice system," said Nicholson.
The laws were changed in the mid-90s, moving away from rehabilitation and towards punishment, something Nicholson said lawmakers must take a look at changing considering what we know now about how kids' brains develop and the ability to understand legal matters that are even complicated for adults.
"You’re dealing with complicated, challenging legal concepts and punishments and consequences that are lifelong for children that can’t see next summer in a clear way," said Nicholson.
The boy is set to make an initial appearance before the children's court presiding judge next week. His defense attorney is also asking for a hearing to discuss bail. He's currently being held in secure custody on $50,000.