The law isn’t built for a case like that of Jordan Brown, the 11-year-old boy charged with killing his father’s pregnant girlfriend with a shotgun, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As a murder suspect, he must be charged as an adult because Pennsylvania law says murder cannot be a delinquent act. Pennsylvania is one of five states — the others are Delaware, Florida, Nevada, and Wisconsin — where Jordan would automatically be charged as an adult, says the Pittsburgh-based National Center for Juvenile Justice.
Prosecutors say that Friday’s killing of 26-year-old Kenzie Marie Houk, who lived with Jordan in a farmhouse, was premeditated. In 1989, a nine-year-old Pennsylvania boy took a rifle from his father’s gun cabinet, loaded it and fired it out of a window, killing a 7-year-old girl on a snowmobile. He later pleaded guilty in adult court to involuntary manslaughter and was placed on probation until he was 21. The juvenile system in Pennsylvania can’t maintain control after the juvenile turns 21, whereas an adult murder conviction can mean decades — or life — in a state prison. The juvenile center says 25 states allow for a third option, the hybrid juvenile-adult sentence. For a particularly serious crime, a juvenile can be sentenced to serve until a certain age in a juvenile facility, then move to state prison for a period of time.