Feb. 28, GALENA, Mo. -- A judge postponed a hearing scheduled for Monday on whether two teenagers will be tried as adults for the murders of a couple from Michigan. Associate Circuit Court Judge Alan Blankenship said in an e-mail message on Thursday night that the hearing is rescheduled for April 17 after a request by the boys' defense attorneys.
Feb. 13, GALENA, Mo. -- A judge scheduled a hearing for next month to decide whether the cases of two teenagers will be transferred to adult court for two murders near Lampe in late January. Transferring juvenile cases to adult court is an option under Missouri law for the most serious crimes.
The boys, who are ages 15 and 16, are charged with murder, burglary and armed criminal action. Investigators think they beat and stabbed Susan and Brian Brooks of Michigan after breaking into the home next to Table Rock Lake where the Brookses were staying for the winter.
The boys ran away from Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch two days before the Brookses’ bodies were found in the home. The ranch is about three miles from the home, and the ranch's staff reported the runaways to the Stone County Sheriff’s Department. The 15-year-old boy is from Tennessee and the 16-year-old boy is from Texas.
Stone County Associate Circuit Court Judge Alan Blankenship, in his capacity as Juvenile Court judge, scheduled a transfer hearing for March 4. That’s the official term for the county juvenile officer’s request to dismiss the juvenile court charges and transfer the cases to adult court.
State law says a judge has to schedule a transfer hearing, also called a certification hearing, when someone between the ages of 12 and 17 is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, forcible rape, forcible sodomy, first-degree robbery, or distribution of drugs, or if the juvenile previously has committed two or more unrelated offenses that would be felonies if committed by an adult.
State law gives the judge discretion to decide whether to transfer the cases. Here are the factors the judge must consider:
(1) The seriousness of the crime and whether the protection of the community requires transfer to adult court;
(2) Whether the crime involved viciousness, force and violence;
(3) Whether the criime was against persons or property with greater weight being given to the offense against persons, especially if personal injury resulted;
(4) Whether the crime is a part of a repetitive pattern of offenses that indicates the child may be beyond rehabilitation under the juvenile code;
(5) The record and history of the child, including experience with the juvenile justice system, other courts, supervision, commitments to juvenile institutions and other placements;
(6) The sophistication and maturity of the child as determined by consideration of his home and environmental situation, emotional condition and pattern of living;
(7) The age of the child;
(8) The program and facilities available to the juvenile court in considering disposition;
(9) Whether the child can benefit from the treatment or rehabilitative programs available to the juvenile court; and
(10) Racial disparity in certification.
The two boys are being held in the Greene County Juvenile Detention Facility in Springfield because Stone County doesn't have such a facility.