Murder suspect's status as adult or juvenile undecided

By Philippe Djegal - email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The stabbing death of John Tyler teacher Todd Henry last week wasn't the only murder committed by a teenager to rock a community.

Last Thursday, a 16-year-old high school student in Chicago was beaten to death while on his way home from school. Four of the suspects are now in custody, one of which is also 16 years old.

The DA says he will be prosecuted as an adult. But, the jury is still out here in Texas on whether 16-year-old Byron Truvia will be tried as an adult.

Authorities say Derrion Albert was an "innocent bystander," caught up in a street fight between rival teens.

The gruesome images of his murder were caught on tape and depict his head being slammed with a two by four and him being stomped on while lying unconscious on the ground.

The DA in that case says one of the suspects, a 16-year-old, will be tried as an adult.

That's because according to the Illinois state legislature, all 15- or 16-year-olds charged with murder are by law required to be tried as an adult. In Texas, the law is less straight forward.

"Was it pre-mediated?" asked Laurie Ann Frank. "I think there's a lot of questions."

Questions that attorney in juvenile law Jennifer Deen says will take some time to sort out.

"In Texas, a 14-year-old could be certified," said Deen.

Meaning, in the case of Byron Truvia, the juvenile court will examine Truvia's family history, mental state and other factors to determine whether or not his case be transferred to criminal court.

"But, only for first degree felony, capital felony and aggravated controlled substance felony," said Deen. "And, then at age 15 any child can be certified on any other felony charge."

If tried in juvenile court, Truvia could face anywhere from probation to a life sentence, leaving open the possibility of once again living outside of a jail cell.

"The penal system is very different from juveniles as it is for adults, which juveniles it's focused on treatment, rehabilitation and counseling," explained Frank.

As an adult, he is most likely looking at life behind bars. However...

"He will never be eligible for the death penalty," said Deen. "He could only get life imprisonment if he is transferred to the adult court."

The DA's office still has about three weeks to file a petition official letting the court know what charges they will bring on Byron Truvia which will determine whether he'll be tried as a juvenile or adult.

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