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Juvenile VA shooting suspect home for holidays, still faces trial

It is not unusual for prosecutors to level many charges to cover multiple offenses across an array of alleged crimes. A common practice is to link allegations of weapons offenses with drug crimes and conspiracy charges. It doesn't matter the age of the suspect, either. Juveniles are not immune from such prosecutorial aggressiveness.

A 17-year-old Virginia Beach-area boy may be discovering this first hand. He is before the criminal court system in connection with a June 2011 shooting death and faces charges of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in a felony. At the time of the alleged crime, the defendant was 16. He has yet to be brought to trial, but aspects of the case are being played out before the courts.

The most recent occurred earlier this month. The focus of the hearing reportedly was to determine whether the boy should be released from juvenile detention, where he has been incarcerated since shortly after the shooting death, and allowed to spend Christmas at his mother's home.

Even though the boy hasn't been tried, a prosecutor apparently argued against such leniency. He proffered to the court that the suspect had shot the 17-year-old victim at close range after the older boy refused to participate in a scheme to steal drugs from a Virginia Beach drug dealer.

In the end, the judge ordered the boy released. But he said he must stay under house arrest and submit to monitoring by GPS bracelet and random visits by authorities. Whether the boy will be allowed to spend New Year's at home with his mother isn't known.

Any time criminal charges are filed, it's a serious matter. When multiple charges are brought to bear by prosecutors, the need for a strong defense is just that much greater. No one should face the legal system without the help of solid legal counsel.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "Prosecutor: Teen slain in Va. Beach as possible 'snitch'," Kathy Adams, Dec. 13, 2012

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