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Friday, February 11, 2011

Prosecutors Want 13 Yr. Old Charged As Adult

KENTWOOD -- Kent County prosecutors today expect to meet with Kentwood Police to decide if 13-year-old Keishawn Mann, accused of shooting his mother's longtime fiance, Jermelle Stokes, should be designated as an adult in court if he is charged in the killing.

Because of his age, Keishawn, if charged with first- or second-degree murder, cannot have his case sent to the adult system, Kent County Circuit Court, officials said. But prosecutors can file a "designated" waiver to allow a judge to sentence him as an adult if he is convicted of a specified serious crime, such as murder.

Kent County Prosecutor William Forsyth on Wednesday confirmed his office will meet today with investigators, but he would not discuss the case, pending a decision on how to proceed. On Tuesday, when Keishawn was ordered held in the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center, prosecutors asked for and received a five-day adjournment to review the case.

Courtesy PhotoJermelle StokesProsecutors frequently file designated waivers in very serious cases with suspects under 14, the age threshold for trial in adult court on specified charges, said Doug Gaddy, intake supervisor for Kent County Family Court.
In 2008, Kent County prosecutors filed 22 designated waivers, up from nine in 2007, and 10 in 2006, records showed.

Defense attorney Kevin Floyd, who maintains Monday's shooting was accidental, said Wednesday he wants to review police reports to determine why investigators think Keishawn shot Stokes intentionally.

Stokes, 35, was shot in the back of the head around 6 p.m. while using his laptop computer on the counter at his Pine Vista SE home. Police said he was shot at "relatively close range," but would not disclose any possible motives.

Stokes had children with his fiancee and the boy's mother, Lakeisha Mann. The boy has a different father.

Floyd said he had no idea why his client would want to harm Stokes. It is hard, Floyd said, to see a child accused of killing.

He said the boy looks like any other his age.

"I have not noticed any character (problems). He's just quiet, just calm, just respectful. He's a 13-year-old," Floyd said.

His client has not been in trouble before, but appears to be doing OK locked up in the detention center. His mother can visit twice a week.

Floyd said he has tried to explain everything to his client.

"It's really about providing him with as much information as possible."

Floyd said it is a difficult situation for everyone in the family. Stokes left five children, including three who lived in his home.

Ottawa County Family Court Judge Jon Hulsing, a former prosecutor, said the decision to charge a juvenile with a crime such as murder "gets somewhat complicated."

Prosecutors work to decide if the public is best served by treating a young offender in the juvenile system, where services are available, or the adult system. They consider the severity of the crime, the suspect's culpability and prior record.

"There are a lot of tools that have been created by the Legislature," Hulsing said. "A lot of those are to address individuals who are 12, 13 and 14, who are charged with serious crimes."

Years ago, children so young did not face being convicted as adults. Now, a conviction can stay with them as adults, particularly if they have problems serving a juvenile sentence. There are ramifications, too, if they get in trouble later in life.

Hulsing said that a "few bad crimes" prompted lawmakers to take a second look at penalizing juveniles, rather than only try to rehabilitate them.

-- http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2010/01/kent_county_prosecutors_police.html

E-mail John Agar: jagar@grpress.com

1 comment:

  1. Prosecutors decide to keep Keishawn Mann's case in juvenile court

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