Columnist

Family of York stabbing victim: 11-year-old suspect needs to stay in jail

Herald columnistJanuary 6, 2014 

— The family of a teenage stabbing victim wants the 11-year-old charged with attempted murder to remain in jail as the case moves through the court system, saying despite the child’s age, he remains a threat to the victim.

The 15-year-old victim was stabbed in the back with a steak knife on Dec. 23. The suspect, whom authorities say is the youngest defendant ever charged with attempted murder in York County, has been in the custody of the juvenile justice system since his arrest shortly after the attack.

Authorities have not identified either boy, citing their ages.

When the 11-year-old makes his first court appearance Tuesday morning, the victim’s family plans to ask the Family Court judge to keep him locked up.

“I really don’t think he should be released,” said Erica Hughes, 25, the victim’s sister. “He doesn’t need the chance to do this to somebody else. If he gets out, he could make more trouble.

“We are concerned for my brother’s safety, and really, the safety of our whole family.”

Police and juvenile prosecutors have not made any statements about the the case or the suspect’s criminal history, but they also are expected to ask the judge to keep the boy in custody. State law allows prosecutors to ask that a juvenile charged with attempted murder remain in custody, said assistant 16th Circuit solicitor Whitney Payne.

Investigators likely will be asked by the judge to explain the case and any criminal history the suspect might have.

Stacey Coleman, the assistant York County public defender representing the 11-year-old, has said the boy will undergo a medical evaluation while in custody. It was not known Monday whether Coleman would ask for the child’s release today.

The case is being handled in Family Court because of the suspect’s age. Juveniles can be detained through age 21 if there is a conviction for serious violent crimes. Judges also can keep defendants in custody if they believe releasing them would threaten public safety.

Hughes, the victim’s sister, said the 11-year-old committed a violent crime against her brother, who she pointed out is also a minor.

“The crime he did was trying to kill my brother – a violent crime no matter what the age,” Hughes said. “He should be punished for what he did.”

The stabbing took place after a fight among several kids, including the victim and the suspect. The suspect’s mother has said her son was defending himself after the victim and others had beaten him up earlier that day and on previous dates.

Two police reports from earlier in 2013 show the suspect’s mother had sought police help after her son was beaten up. An adult witness from the Dec. 23 incident told police the victim had hit the younger boy in the face with a hat and would not stop, starting the fight.

But the 11-year-old had been taken home by an adult after that fight, according to a police report; he then left home and sought out the victim. Two juvenile witnesses told police they saw the suspect approach the victim from behind.

One of the witnesses told officers the suspect “ran from across the road...and ran up behind the victim and stuck the knife in his back.”

After almost a week in the hospital after emergency surgery, the victim is now recovering, his sister said.

“My brother was trying to get home and he was attacked,” Hughes said. “He was stabbed in the back.”

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065 •  adys@heraldonline.com

The Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service