Judge to decide if homicide case should be sent to juvenile court
Share with others:
By age 15, Akeem Willie had been in and out of nine juvenile treatment programs.
He started showing signs of trouble by age 8, when he was thrown out of a school for kicking in a door. He was charged with a crime at age 11.
Between ages 12 and 15, he was adjudicated delinquent four times on charges such as simple assault against a teacher, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and fleeing from police.
Although he "failed to adjust" in at least five programs, he did complete one and was released in May 2011 from Western PA Child Care.
In three months, he got in trouble again.
That time, he was charged with homicide, robbery, carrying a firearm without a license and reckless endangerment following a shooting on Aug. 24, 2011, in the parking lot of McDonald's in Penn Hills.
On Friday, his defense attorney, Robert E. Mielnicki, asked an Allegheny County Common Pleas judge to transfer the case to juvenile court.
Judge Thomas E. Flaherty took the matter under advisement and said he will issue his decision next week.
Akeem, who is now 17, is charged with killing Dalyn Jones, 18, of Penn Hills, over a half ounce of hydroponic marijuana.
According to police, Jones was a passenger in a car with another person outside the McDonald's on Frankstown Road about 5:30 p.m. that day, when Akeem and another teen, Darien Clark, got into the backseat.
Police said Akeem pulled a handgun out of his waistband and demanded their valuables.
When Jones hesitated, investigators said, Akeem pistol-whipped, then shot him.
Jones got out of the car and exchanged gunfire. The autopsy report showed that Jones was shot multiple times in the back.
In arguing to move the case to juvenile court, Mr. Mielnicki presented testimony from a psychiatrist who reviewed Akeem's records and interviewed him.
Stephen Zerby diagnosed Akeem with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as conduct disorder.
The doctor said he believed that with medicine to treat the ADHD and proper structure and supervision, Akeem would be amenable to treatment within the juvenile justice system.
If the case is moved to juvenile court, and Akeem is adjudicated delinquent, he could remain in the system only until age 21.
Assistant District Attorney Robert Schupansky, however, presented evidence to Dr. Zerby that since being held in the Allegheny County Jail on the current counts, Akeem has been charged with assaulting corrections officers twice -- including attacking one officer who suffered a concussion.
Presented with that information, Dr. Zerby replied, "I believe he could respond to treatment in a secure facility."
But, Mr. Schupansky continued, Akeem had already gone through treatment in a secure facility.
"I can't say the treatment resulted in a homicide," Dr. Zerby said.
"But it didn't stop it, did it?" Mr. Schupansky asked.
Bruce Wright, a psychiatrist called by the prosecution, testified that he believed Akeem did not belong in the juvenile system, and that if he was released in such a short period of time, he would be at significant risk of recidivism and pose a risk to society.
He also said he did not believe Akeem currently has ADHD.
"He does have a history of irresponsible, dangerous and illegal behavior," Dr. Wright said.
"His behavior problems aren't due to an impaired mental capacity."
First Published January 19, 2013 12:00 am