#TopStory :At what age should a child be culpable for his actions? The case of Jordan Brown,the child-killer.(video)

2 months ago ...

At what age should a child be culpable for his actions? Twelve year-old Jordan Brown and his family are anxiously awaiting an answer. Jordan is the prime suspect in the 2009 murder of his father's 26 year-old fiancé, Kenzie Houk, who was also 8 months pregnant at the time of her death. Her unborn son died as well. Jordan was 11 years old when he was arrested for murder. 

Jordan is accused of shooting his soon to be stepmother in the back of her head while she lay sleeping. He then reportedly boarded his school bus and went to school. Kenzie's 4 year-old daughter found her body.

The Huffington Post reported a statement suggesting that Jordan may have planned to murder Kenzie well beforehand. Jason Kraner, Kenzie's brother-in-law is quoted as stating, "There was an issue with jealousy. He told my son stuff." He goes on to imply premeditation, "He actually told my son that he wanted to do that to her."

The prosecutor in the case, John Bongivengo told CNN, "My choice is either to charge him as an adult, or don't charge him," referring to nuances of Pennsylvania law, and goes on to state, "Not charging him at all wasn't feasible."

So what is right in this case? If Jordan, now 12 years old, is charged as an adult, he may spend most of the rest of his life in prison. If the charges are dropped, Jordan is not punished for his actions and the murder of an innocent victim is unavenged. Moreover, what precedent might the latter choice set for future child perpetrators? Still more harrowing, might it set the stage for copycats - would be child murderers hoping to get away with murder?

There are three approaches to examining liability for murder in the U.S: Common Law, Statutory Law and the Model Penal Code. For simplicity sake, consider the common law definition of murder; "the killing of a human being by another human being with malice aforethought." "Malice" is found if the individual possesses any one of the four states of mind:
The intention to kill a human being
The intention to inflict grievous bodily injury on another
An extremely reckless disregard for the value of human life; or
The intention to commit a felony during the commission or attempted commission of which a death results.

There is no exclusion for children. Many states have created a distinction for child murders under the pretense that children cannot understand the seriousness of their actions. The question becomes at what age or degree of maturity does a child understand and therefore should be held accountable? The debate surrounding this question seems to resurface whenever a well-publicized murder occurs at the hands of a child. Here are a few well-known cases.

8 years ago...

Post a Comment