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Teenager to be charged as an adult, 12-year-old as a minor in shootout with MPs from Volusia

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VOLUSIA COUNTY, FL – The Volusia County District Attorney on Thursday announced charges against two young runaways accused of opening fire on MPs with guns found inside a house they broke into.

The 14-year-old, who was shot dead by lawmakers after saying she pointed a shotgun at them, will face charges as an adult, according to the 7th Judicial Circuit state prosecutor RJ Larizza, while the 12-year-old girl faces charges as a minor.

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Despite the two charges brought before different court systems, their charges are the same, Larizza said. The two face an attempted first-degree murder of a law enforcement officer, a home burglary while armed with a gun, and a misdemeanor misdemeanor.

He pointed out that the charge of attempted first degree murder of a law enforcement officer would carry a mandatory life sentence for adults convicted; however, even in the case of the 14-year-old accused as an adult, the sentencing rules are different due to the Graham and Miller decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

“The United States Supreme Court in Graham v. Florida has ruled that life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of crimes other than homicide are cruel and unusual, and therefore unconstitutional, and required that convicted minors have a real opportunity to be released. Miller v. Alabama followed, and the court ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for juveniles convicted of any felony violated the Eighth Amendment, ”according to the Stetson Law Review.

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“I also want to add that although the 14-year-old has been charged as an adult, the judge has the discretion, ultimately, to impose juvenile penalties,” Larizza said.

According to body camera video and reports from the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, foster children fled from a nearby children’s home before ransacking a home on Enterprise Osteen Road and uncovering a cache. weapons. When the deputies were looking for the children and saw the house, they attempted to make contact, but the girl and boy opened fire on the deputies with the newly found guns, according to the county sheriff from Volusia, Mike Chitwood.

The boy and girl repeatedly shot MPs for about 30 minutes, according to sheriff officials, before MPs shot the 14-year-old girl in the chest and arm and the boy surrendered.

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“We are fortunate that these two people (the foster children) are alive and we have not lost any law enforcement. I mean that’s the blessing there, ”Larizza said.

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Chitwood released a statement Thursday after the charges were announced.

“The first priority for me is that our MPs are alive. What happens next in the courtroom will be up to a judge and jury, ”said Chitwood. “I have full confidence in RJ Larizza and his team, and I support the difficult prosecution decisions they had to make in this case. These young defendants are alive today thanks to the training, compassion and incredible restraint shown by our deputies, and I am confident that our prosecution will ensure that their efforts are not in vain.

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The 14-year-old made her first court appearance last week from a bed. MPs said she was still receiving medical treatment in a juvenile detention center. The judge ordered the continued detention of the young girl.

Before her first appearance, the 14-year-old had been in hospital since June 2 when investigators said she and a 12-year-old boy escaped the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home, before embarking on a shootout with deputies.

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“She will be transferred to the Volusia County branch jail where she will be, which is where she will be held, pending the outcome of these charges,” Larizza said.

During his first appearance, the 12-year-old boy was also ordered to remain in detention. The prosecutor said he would remain in the juvenile detention center.

Sheriff’s office records for the girl and boy show a long history of mental illness. The two children were hospitalized under the Baker Act, a Florida law that allows authorities to temporarily detain someone for emergency mental health services.

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“Their background in general – without being specific – is worrying and alarming and it is worrying, but we believe that impeaching her as an adult does not mean that she will ultimately be sentenced as an adult,” he said. declared Larizza. “We will cross this bridge later because we have plenty of time to check the backgrounds of these two children and to check them not only on the police reports, but with experts who can assess them and give us expert opinions. on what we’re dealing with. with.”

Since the shooting, Chitwood has called for action and criticized state agencies, including the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Children and Families, both of whom encountered the suspects at an early age.

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“The Ministry of Juvenile Justice is not doing its job. DCF is not doing its job and everyone is pointing fingers, ”Chitwood said two days after the shooting.

The state attorney also addressed Chitwood’s concerns at the press conference.

“I also spoke to the Department of Children’s Families. In fact, they’ve created a committee, and one of us – Kristen DePaula, our counsel for minors across the circuit – is on that committee to work with DCF on housing for minors. miners, and how we can look at this event, we can look at what happened and try to find solutions, ”Larizza said. “Better practices on how to solve very difficult problems in very difficult and difficult problems of where do you stay children who are in foster care, who are in delinquency or who come from the addiction court or requests for refuge and how we can do a better job of that.

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He added: “I think we have people in decision-making positions with DCF and JJ (Juvenile Justice) who want to help determine what would be a best practice.”

Despite the serious charges against the children, Larizza has made it clear that he wants a fair outcome for them as they make their way through the justice system.

“The biggest challenge – which is an opportunity – is how we deal with those who have been charged and what ultimately is the appropriate way to resolve them. And it’s going to take, looking at the law. facts and I think I put some compassion on it as well, but you have to balance public safety with the needs of these people. “

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