DA: Child charged with murder could be tried as adult, but not likely

JOHNSON COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – How young is too young for someone to be tried as an adult in a murder case? That’s the question News Channel 11 took to District Attorney Tony Clark.

He said an 11-year-old boy murdered 84-year-old Teruko Shaw last December in Johnson County.

He is facing Felony Murder charges, but is not being tried as an adult right now.

Clark said it is possible a judge could decide to try the child in adult court. Friends of Shaw, like Vadie Ward, said they would like to see that happen.

Ward recalled her friend and neighbor Teruko Shaw.

“She would do anything she could for anybody,” she said.

Ward said when she heard the news last year she was devastated.

“She was one of my best friends and it ruined my Christmas last year,” Ward continued.

Ward said she has been on edge for the past year knowing no arrests had been made in the case.

“You had to be cautious. I locked my door and put my key in my pocket every time I went out,” she said.

She was thrilled to hear police finally arrested someone. But when she found out the child was 11 years old at the time of the murder, she was wondering if he could be tried as an adult.

We took that question to District Attorney General Tony Clark.

“That’s a decision that I make and I have not made that decision as of yet. We can ask for transfer hearing to transfer him up and treat him as an adult but that decision has not been made yet,” Clark said.

But he says the likelihood of being tried as an adult will not be successful because of the child’s age.

Clark said the court looks at factors such as age, prior criminal history, the seriousness of the offense, and mental evaluations before making a determination.

“All the other factors other than the seriousness of the offense would lean towards him staying as a juvenile,” he said.

The District Attorney said if that’s the case and he’s convicted, he’d be out of state custody within the next few years.

“We’re looking at 6.5 to 7 years possible that he’d have to stay in state custody.”

But that decision won’t be made until a judge hears his case.

The juvenile is charged with Felony Murder, Especially Aggravated Robbery, and Theft of Property.

He is scheduled to be extradited back to Tennessee and appear before a judge sometime this week.

Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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