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Colorado Springs teen sentenced for attacks on mom and brother

For obvious reasons, our criminal justice system treats juveniles differently from adults. It also treats people who are mentally ill differently from people with a normal brain capacity. A recent case in Colorado Springs dealt with a young man who in addition to being a juvenile, also suffers from mental illness, but was accused of committing a very serious crime.

In early March the 15-year-old was convicted of attempted first-degree murder when a jury found him guilty of shooting and stabbing his mother in 2009. This week, the boy was sentenced to up to five years in juvenile prison for the crime.

The boy had also been charged with first-degree murder for shooting his 9-year-old brother that same day, but the jury reached a deadlock as to his guilt. On Wednesday, the boy pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide in his brother's death, which avoided a retrial on the case.

Once the juvenile turns 21 he will no longer be able to be held by the Division of Youth Corrections, and he will be eligible for parole when he turns 18.

According to his attorney, the boy had long struggled with mental illness and had committed the crimes while sleepwalking.

The deputy public defender who was representing the boy said that since the boy's arrest almost two years ago, he has been unable to get mental health treatment, which she said is a flaw in the juvenile justice system. His attorney said the boy will receive treatment for his illness while serving his sentence.

Source: Colorado Springs Gazette, "Springs teen gets 5 years for attack on mom," John C. Ensslin, 4/6/2011.

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