A 10-year-old boy who has been in an adult jail accused of fatally beating a 90-year-old woman two months ago is scared, lonely and misses his mother, his lawyer said.
The boy, one of the youngest ever to face an adult murder charge in Pennsylvania, met with family through a glass partition when he was first brought to jail.
The lawyer, Scott Bennett, said more recently the child was permitted to have physical contact with them “so his mom can give him a hug”.
Another lawyer, who initially represented the boy, had petitioned the court to release him into the custody of his father or send him to a juvenile facility. But he withdrew his request, saying the family was not comfortable having him placed in their care, and the closest youth facility was 80 miles away.
Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Centre in Philadelphia, said even if the boy was being treated well, an adult jail was simply not equipped for a child’s needs.
“It’s shocking. I’m not sure there’s another state in the country where we would see this, a 10-year-old boy sitting in an adult county jail for two months,” she said.
The elderly victim, Helen Novak, died on 11 October at the home of the boy’s grandfather, who had been caring for her. The boy became angry when he went into Ms Novak’s room to ask her a question and she shouted at him, according to the boy’s mother.
The boy told his mother that “he got mad, lost his temper and grabbed a cane and put it around Ms Novak’s throat,” police said.
Mr Bennett said he would seek to transfer the case to a juvenile court. He also wants the boy to be held in a youth facility. The boy is housed away from the adult population in the jail, but he is not in solitary confinement.
His cell doors are opened in the morning and locked at night, like the other inmates.
Vicky Botjer, a chief county clerk, said the boy was supplied with books and films, and a teacher was helping his school work.
A spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office declined to comment. The boy has not been identified because he is a minor.Reuse content