12 Year Old to be Charged as Adult with Double Homicide

In 2009, eleven year old Jordan Brown, shot his father’s girlfriend to death while she was sleeping.  She was eight months pregnant at the time; the fetus did not survive.

Jordan is being charged as an adult in the case rather than as a juvenile, per state law.  Pennsylvania law mandates that every person over the age of ten who is charged with homicide be tried as an adult.

The crime was heinous.  It was unprovoked.  The fetus, at that stage, would have easily been viable if born at that time.  The limited facts available make me wonder how on earth a child of only eleven could harbor so much anger and bitterness that he took it out on an unarmed, sleeping, mother-to-be.  Was he driven to it somehow or is he just wired wrong – a sociopath, lacking empathy?

But to charge him as an adult? No matter what evidence there is or what his motives, eleven year old children do not think like adults.  It is well documented that children of that age still lack impulse control.  Most live in the now – they lack foresight.  The hormones are kicking in, subjecting kids (and parents) to unpredictable mood swings.  Many children of that age lack the ability to think abstractly.  These are the reasons that juvenile law exists, in fact…because eleven year olds are not and will never be emotionally developed like an adult. 

It’s one thing to say that he understood that guns can kill and a different thing to say that he understood the ramifications with the same depth that an adult does – it’s simply not possible.

This is a poorly conceived law.  I have a feeling it was someone’s political baby – a knee jerk reaction to kids “getting off” for serious crimes, but there are intermediate solutions, less drastic ones than the life in prison, which Jordan now faces. 

Of course he should be punished, but to shut the iron bars on a twelve-year-old and write him off forever seems so very premature.

Consider this also:  The gun used to shoot the victim was a youth model 20-gauge shotgun owned by Jordan. 

I’m no fan of firearms in homes, but I realize that it is our constitutional right to do so and that many people find them fascinating or think they need them.  And if kept safely, I don’t have a problem with that.  Guns must be kept locked and out of the reach of children at all times.  This one was not, obviously.

There are so many things I’d like to know about this heartbreaking case.  Who thought a shotgun would be a good thing for an eleven year old to own?  Was there any effort made to secure it?  Is the father being charged with making a firearm accessible to a minor or endangering a child (depending on the laws in PA)?  Was there any suspicion of abuse in the family?  Were there any warning signs at all?  If so, was counseling sought? Why was Jordan so upset?

The father has lost his girlfriend and, effectively, two children.  As a parent, it’s devastating to think about.  Gun ownership may be a right, but it comes with heavy responsibility, too.  I would suspect that Jordan was taught to use the gun safely.  His dad is probably a hunter.

Eleven year old lack predictability.  They lack foresight.  They often cannot think abstractly.  They lack impulse control.  They are awash in poor judgment.

No child should ever be left with a gun unattended – not a six-year-old, not a ten-year-old, not a fifteen-year-old.  It pains me to think that anyone should learn that lesson this way, but Jordan’s father is certainly not the first parent to make this mistake.  He surely won’t be the last.

Jordan made one terrible mistake.  He lashed out and it cannot be undone now.   Maybe it’s one of many horrors he would have committed if left to his own devices?  Or maybe he’s a decent kid who would have gone on to college, grown up to a be a productive member of our society, and made a wonderful dad one day but for one, fateful, devastating choice at eleven years old? Certainly I don’t know the answer.  And while upsetting to think about, given the given the current law in Pennsylvania, I don’t think it really matters.

Article here.

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3 Comments

  1. dandailey said,

    August 5, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    If you are indeed a lawyer, you should not only be aware that Jordan has not been found guilty and that it is dead wrong for you to declare otherwise without a single “alleged” or “as claimed by police” to put you in the right. Jordan is, in fact, not guilty of this crime. The murders were probably committed by a former boyfriend of the vistim, and a handgun–not a youth-sized shotgun–was used. For the full facts of the case, I invite you to visit http://wandervogeldiary.wordpress.com/.

    • August 6, 2010 at 12:45 pm

      Thanks for the update, Dan! I was going by the facts in the article I linked, which was what was known/disclosed at the time, so I’m really glad to hear that further investigation was done and another party was found to be culpable. I’m sure the child will be affected for life, however, and that is quite distressing, of course – I hope he gets the care he needs to work through this as best he can. Thanks for the comment.

  2. dandailey said,

    August 26, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Unfortunately, the police have not thoroughly investigated the former boyfriend, so he has not been found “culpable.” The state is proceeding with its ill-conceived case against this little boy. It is a railroad job that defies all common sense and decency. The media have already gotten a lynch-mob verdict in the court of public opinion.

    This case does not fit the pattern one almost always sees in parricide cases. Jordan was not abused, is not mentally ill, and was not angry–just a normal little kid. He didn’t do it and, after all this time in detention, has always maintained his innocence. (A kid who was guilty would have slipped up and told somebody.)

    A federal law enforcement agent told me the police in this part of Pennsylvania are known for their incompetence and lack of professionalism (they didn’t even process the crime scene for fingerprints, coerced false testimony from a child witness, and all their forensic evidence has come back from the crime lab failing to confirm their hip-shot crime theory); numerous private citizens have told me local government is rife with corruption due to the longstanding influence of organized crime. The original prosecutor charged the boy as a political move to prop up his failing re-election campaign (which he lost). The state attorney general, whose office is now prosecuting this case, is running for governor as a tough-on-crime candidate.

    I hate to use this stupid term, but it is an example of a “perfect storm.”


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