When A Boy Is Accused Of Murder

Larry Price
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Wednesday - June 06, 2007
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Something terrible happened in Ewa last week. Law-enforcement officials arrested a 15-year old boy for the alleged strangling death of his neighbor.

Later it was learned that the boy had come to Hawaii from New Zealand two years ago with his father. In a short two years, the young boy was arrested 10 times for felony burglary, misdemeanor trespassing, misdemeanor theft, truancy, running away from home and several other misdemeanor crimes. It is probably safe to assume that this boy was no stranger to law-enforcement officials.

If that isn’t mind-boggling enough, the boy’s father said he thought the killing could have been prevented, and blamed the state’s juvenile services for not helping his son or locking him up sooner. It was also learned a Family Court counselor has been seeing his son for about a year and a half, but it didn’t stop him from hanging out with a group of unruly friends.

When the father asked his son why he killed their neighbor, he claimed it was to “please his friends.” That’s when the father called the police and turned in his son to authorities.

How could this all happen under the watch of so many adults? It’s hard to imagine. The neighbors describe the parents of the boy as “good, hard-working, church-going people who did all they could to discipline him, and have no problems with their other children. The family is not involved with drugs and are law-abiding citizens.”

It’s obvious there is a lot more to be learned about this tragic story to see if further investigation will provide law-enforcement officials with some clue as how to prevent this kind of crime. It is probably equally obvious that the Family Court counselors are not to blame for the murder. How could they be? On the surface there is very little evidence that the boy was unsupervised and allowed to run wild in the Ewa District.

The victim had filed a complaint with the police about the boy the day before she was killed. She had even received a subpoena to testify against him in court. Unfortunately, time was not on the victim’s side.

After all of these shocking revelations, prosecutors and the police are seeking a waiver from the Family Court to charge the 15-year-old with murder and prosecute him as an adult. Law-enforcement officials can’t really talk about the case because he is a juvenile and has a right to privacy. After all he has admitted to, it turns out he has a right to privacy?

Finally, the young boy ends up in a juvenile detention facility to ponder his fate. The difference between juvenile detention and prison is the juvenile detention facility is about rehabilitation and prison is about punishment. If he is tried as an adult, the taxpayers could end up paying for his room and board for life. If he stays in a detention facility, he might be required to spend four or five years in custody and rehabilitation.

At this time it’s probably better to send prayers and empathy to the victim and worry about her families welfare, rather than what happens to the boy. Fixing the blame on why a crime like this can happen in Hawaii is important; however, when you can’t even disclose his name because of his rights to privacy, trying to assign blame seems a little shallow.

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