OH, PA Killings Of Parents Show Differences In Juvenile Laws


On Jan. 2, Deborah McVay, 46, was found dead, lying face down on the living room floor in her home in Big Prairie, Ohio. Her son, Joseph, 10, is accused of killing her with a single .22-caliber rifle shot to the head, says the Beaver County Times in Pennsylvania. Just 100 miles east and two years earlier, Kenzie Houk, 26, of New Beaver, Pa., died of a shotgun blast to the head while lying in bed. She was pregnant, and her unborn son died with her; her fiance’s son, Jordan, Brown, 11, is charged.

Though the two boys are accused of similar crimes, the possible outcomes they face are vastly different. That's because of the juvenile crime laws of the states where they live. Brown, now 13, must be tried as an adult, despite his age, because of the nature of the charge. Under Ohio law, children younger than 14 cannot be tried as adults. McVay, if found guilty, would be punished as a juvenile, and that punishment probably would end at age 21. In Ohio, Holmes County Prosecutor Steven Knowling said he fears the juvenile system can release an offender too soon in a case such as McVay's. FBI data show that violent crime by children younger than 12 is extremely rare. From 2000 to 2008, there were 52 cases of murder by children under age 12 in the U.S.; in 25 of those cases, the victims were family members.

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