Florida prosecutors have offered Lionel Tate a plea deal that would send him home in less than a month, the Miami Herald reports. Tate, who killed a 6-year-old girl when he was 12, would end one of the most challenging cases in the history of Florida’s juvenile-justice system if he accepts. The plea would have Tate plead guilty to second-degree murder and sentence him to three years in a juvenile facility with credit for time served, freeing him on Jan. 24. He would then serve one year of house arrest followed by 10 years probation.
The Tate case has been a troubling one for the Broward state attorney’s office, whose prosecutors have expressed misgivings about the mandatory life sentence Tate received when convicted of first-degree murder on adult charges three years ago. The plea offer is the same deal Tate rejected before trial. Tate, then 14, along with his mother and attorneys, offered the defense that he was trying out professional wrestling moves on 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick when he beat her to death with brutal force.
A jury convicted Tate of killing Eunick, but an appeals court this month granted him a new trial, saying that Tate’s ability to understand basic elements of the legal system was not adequately evaluated by the trial judge.
Tate had been the youngest American on record ever given a life sentence.