Many five year olds can’t read, write, or even tie their own shoes. So why is the state of Kansas contemplating charging one with murder?
According to Reuters, a five year old girl is the prime suspect of the alleged bathtub drowning of an 18 month old, after conducting interviews that implied that the girl may have become irritated with the toddler, who wouldn’t stop crying.
“Kansas City police are waiting for a medical examiner’s report on how Jermane Johnson Jr., died, but have investigated the death as a homicide, spokesman Darin Snapp said Thursday.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 20 years and it’s the youngest suspect I can remember,” Snapp said. “It’s extremely rare.”
The alleged suspect, victim, and other children were all being watched by a sixteen year old who reportedly fell asleep, leaving the kids unattended.
It’s nearly impossible to actually charge a child with murder, especially one so young. One recent case from a few years ago in Arizona involved an 8 year old who shot his father and father’s roommate, allegedly because of abuse. Although the child was originally charged with murder, the resulting plea was negligent homicide.
In the Arizona case, many argued that an 8 year old simply cannot be held responsible for an act of murder as he or she has not yet fully developed the part of the brain that understands right from wrong, or has full empathy for other people’s emotions, nor sees them as total and real entities like they know themselves to be.
As for a five year old? She’s unlikely to even fully grasp the difference between real and make believe. If she did in fact drown the toddler willfully and with intent, what is the likelihood that she truly understood what the end result meant?
But if prosecutors to decide to go forth and charge a kindergartener with murder, I assume they will end up charging the 16 year old as well, likely with criminal neglect. And two more young lives could potentially be ruined in the process.
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