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March 15th, 2010
09:00 AM ET

Growing Up Behind Bars: Families split over shocking murder

(CNN) – Today we're looking at an unprecedented legal case in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

A 12-year-old boy could end up being the youngest person in the U.S. sentenced to life in prison without parole. He's accused of killing his father's pregnant fiancee.

Only CNN's "American Morning" is talking with both the victim's family and the young boy's family. Our Jason Carroll reports for part one of our series, "Growing Up Behind Bars."

Filed under: Crime • Growing Up Behind Bars
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Kelly

    Just because he is a minor does not excuse his behavior. This behavior probably manifested itself very early, otherwise it may have been years before he acted on his impulses. Children are very capable of committing heinous acts. If you don't believe that a child can be cruel, sadistic, violent, premedited, etc. read about the 14 year old boy who kidnapped and murdered his 4 year old neighbor Alex Mercando to prevent him from revealing that he was molesting him or read about the methodical nature of the brutal murder of 2 year old James Bulger by two 10 year old boys in England. Those should shake you to your very core.

    The punishment should fit the crime, no matter the age.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  2. Sha Quanta

    I am not in shocked by the story. If I was the judge I will need more than 20 days to come up with a valid decision. This is hard for the father, the son, and the judge. I do not believe this kid knew the consequences of what he did. I am not saying he is insane but he had no idea.

    I do not think he intended to kill the woman. He just made a terrible mistake and trying him as an adult should not be the conclusion. He should spend time in juvenile for some years but life in prison is just absurd.

    I am sure if he was given couseling and some anger classes or what have you then he will be fine. I feel for the family of the victim but I think the victim would not want her stepson to be in prison for life. The families have to understand that this is a child. Yes he committed an adult crime but he is still a child. Some children have intentions on causing harm and know what they did and are aware of the consequences. However, this case is different. I hope and pray the judge is a parent.

    God has already forgiven this child. He is God's child and if he can forgive him then so can the family. God knows the real reasons and he is the only judge in my book. My prayers will go out to the familes and the judge.

    March 15, 2010 at 4:25 pm |
  3. Pam

    I have no problem with him staying behind bars for the rest of his life.
    I am tired of sympathy going to the matter what their age.

    Do the crime, do the time. Perhaps if we stopped making excuses for people, they would start being more accountable. Even children.

    Hasn't anyone else noticed that the more rights we give to children, the more out of hand they are getting!!!!!!!!!!!! If we are going to give them adult rights, then they need to get adult punishment. I guaranteed that iif the father in this case had spanked his son for being disrespectful to his fiance, the father would have been in trouble.

    So, if the state says we can't punish our kids while we are teaching them right from wrong as they grow up....then the state will end up having to punish them for the crimes they commit!!!!!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  4. Darrell

    We seem to be missing the point. This situation is an anomaly, not the norm. I don't think it would be a stretch to argue that a 12 year old knows the difference between right and wrong when it comes to murder. It's cases like these that make me happy that my child is good because she thinks that Santa is watching, not because of the prospect of going to prison for the rest of her life.

    March 15, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  5. kay

    I am horrified that this CHILD is being treated like an adult. I have a son and have taught young boys and girls. they do things that they are unaware of the consequences that is because they ARE CHILDREN!!
    THEY CAN'T DRINK, BUY A GUN, DRIVE A CAR BUT THEY SHOULD GO TO JAIL FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE BECAUSE THEY POSSIBLE COMMITTED A CRIME. This child needs help and he will not get it in an adult prison. Lots of adults make huge mistakes but we know the consequences but a 10, 11,12,13 year old. I would wager if the victim could speak on his behalf she would probably rather he had psycological help instead a putting a CHILDin an ADULT Prision. How is that JUST!!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 12:10 pm |
  6. Maria

    I wish I could hug him and make it all better. This child looks so sad and lonely. We don't incarcerate adult killers for life for worse crimes.I just wish something could be done to help this child I can't even bear to look at his sweet face without crying.

    March 15, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  7. Melissa

    This child killed a pregnant woman in cold blood. He needs to be tried in a court and put away for ever. What happens to this murderer when he is grown man? He will be abusing his own children and any one else that he can. He is very broken and can be fixed. If he commits murder at 12 what will he be doing at 18, 20, 25, 30 etc.? Just look at the two boys in England who murdered at age 10 one of them is back in prision only after a year of being released.

    March 15, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  8. Jason Smith - St. Augustine, FL

    I was deeply disturbed about this tragic story. It seems to me everyone always forgets that the method of the young womens murder involved a gun. I blame the gun, and the gun owner. Why was such a weapon and ammunition available to an unsupervised eleven year old? It seems to me that the father should be behind bars, if he owned the gun. The NRA can scream all they want, but if you have children in your home, guns should be locked and ammunition should not be accessible to them. Some simple gun safety methods and parental responsibility could have avoided such a tragic outcome. Until tougher laws are passed to hold irresponsible gun owners accountable, needless violence will only continue.

    March 15, 2010 at 10:25 am |