In Missouri, there is a deeply unsettling crime involving two boys, aged 13 and 14, where Tanya Chamberlain, 43, was brutally stabbed in the face, neck, chest and hands. After killing her, the two teens went on a joyride with her dead body propped up in the front seat. The case again raises the question of when minors should be be tried as adults in our country.
Chamberlain was vacuuming out her car when the boys attacked. A surveillance video shows the eighth-graders exiting Quick Clean Car Wash wearing distinct hoodies. However, due to the time change on November 1st, the culprits got a break. The change to daylight saving time resulted in the video re-booting and by that time the car was gone. However, the police insist that they caught the teenagers in the victim’s car and found her body propped up in the front seat with her feet on the dashboard. Police spotted the car swerving and thought it was a drunk driver. The boys then fled the car and the police lost them. They recovered the bloody pocket knife.
The boys showed up for school the day in the eighth grade after Chamberlain’s death and a fellow classmate’s mother recognized the sweatshirts, which they wore at both the murder and the next day to school. Another mother told police that they had come by her house wearing the same sweatshirts.
In perhaps the world’s most understated response, Scott Thomason (presumably a neighbor) was quoted as saying, “I thought it was very unfortunate. It’s kind of shocking how two eighth-graders could do something like that.” Unfortunate and “kind of shocking” does not quite capture the response of most people to two teenagers randomly stabbing a woman to death and then taking her dead body on a joy ride in her car.
Not only do the police have the clothing and presumably of forensic evidence, but they say that the teens made incriminating statements during police interviews that only someone involved in the crime would know, according to reports.
Here is the heart of the standard in the Missouri code, which these teenagers appear to satisfy:
Certification of juvenile for trial as adult–procedure–mandatory hearing, certain offenses–misrepresentation of age, effect.
211.071. 1. If a petition alleges that a child between the ages of twelve and seventeen has committed an offense which would be considered a felony if committed by an adult, the court may, upon its own motion or upon motion by the juvenile officer, the child or the child’s custodian, order a hearing and may, in its discretion, dismiss the petition and such child may be transferred to the court of general jurisdiction and prosecuted under the general law; except that if a petition alleges that any child has committed an offense which would be considered first degree murder under section 565.020, second degree murder under section 565.021, first degree assault under section 565.050, forcible rape under section 566.030 as it existed prior to August 28, 2013, rape in the first degree under section 566.030, forcible sodomy under section 566.060 as it existed prior to August 28, 2013, sodomy in the first degree under section 566.060, first degree robbery under section 569.020, or distribution of drugs under section 195.211, or has committed two or more prior unrelated offenses which would be felonies if committed by an adult, the court shall order a hearing, and may in its discretion, dismiss the petition and transfer the child to a court of general jurisdiction for prosecution under the general law.
What do you think? Should they be tried as adults?