Nathaniel Abraham, 19, no longer is the wisp of an 11-year-old who coldly shot a stranger in the head, becoming one of the youngest murderers in U.S. history, reports the Detroit News. Charged as an adult but sentenced as a youth, he changed? He has come far emotionally and intellectually, but he continues to fight with guards and won’t admit when he is wrong.
Rehabilitated or not, he will be released from a juvenile detention facility in 17 months, and his subsequent success or failure could affect the juvenile justice system by influencing the sentencing of other violent youths. Abraham was Exhibit A in the need to get tough with juvenile criminals by trying them as adults. The mood has swung the other way, with legal advocates counseling leniency and rehabilitation. “If he’s successful after he gets out, I think people can come back — whether it’s the media or court system — and say that the system works,” said Dan Bagdade, his defense attorney. If a decade of detention can’t straighten out Abraham, some judges may wonder whether there’s any point to it and be less inclined to send teens there, experts said.