Pittsburgh: A panel of US
judges on Tuesday hears arguments over whether a 13-year-old
boy accused of slaying his father`s fiance should be tried as
an adult -- making it possible for him to spend the rest of
his life in prison.
Pennsylvania`s Superior Court is considering an appeal
by defense lawyers, who want the teen, Jordan Brown, to be
sent to a juvenile facility rather than face imprisonment
without parole as an adult.
Emotions are high, given the horrific nature of the
crime and the broader legal implications that the three-judge
panel must consider in the case.
Brown was just 11, a chubby schoolboy, when he
allegedly shot Kenzie Houk, then eight months pregnant, in the
back of the head in February 2009 in her rural home northwest
of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Prosecutors allege that the boy waited until his
father left for work that Friday morning before entering
Houk`s bedroom and shooting her with a 20-gage shotgun.
After that, prosecutors say, he went to school,
dropping the spent cartridge outside and leaving Houk`s
daughter, aged four, to discover the grisly scene.
Last year, a local judge ruled that Brown, by then 13,
should stand trial as an adult for what is being considered
the double murder of Houk and her near full-term baby son.
In the two years since the crime, Brown has been in
custody and the case has drawn attention to on how children
are handled in the American criminal justice system.
Amnesty International has been prominent in
campaigning to overturn the judge`s ruling, saying it is
"deeply disturbed" by the fact that Brown would, if convicted,
never be free again.