25/01/13 at 5:50 am
In legal terms, “juvenile” is a young person who is not mature enough to be held responsible for committing a crime. The first juvenile court in the world was opened in Chicago in 1899. The idea behind it was to extend an opportunity and environment for reformation of the troubled children at their tender age while they could still be transformed. The juvenile courts are usually categorized for three classes: delinquents, abused, and needy. Since the age limit which distinguishes a juvenile from an adult is of critical importance in determining if a trial has to be run in a juvenile or an adult court, different states have their own laws relating to the juvenile age. The federal limit is less than 18 years, while in Wyoming it is less than 19 years. In some states the juvenile is regarded as less than 17 years of age. In Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina, a juvenile is considered less than 16 years of age. In some states like Indiana, Vermont, and South Dakota, children 10 years of age can be tried in adult court. With the increasing violent crimes, more and more children are being tried in adult courts.
1. Kipland Philip Kinkel
Kipland Philip Kinkel, nicknamed Kip, was born to William Kinkel and Faith Zuranski in Springfield, Oregon, U.S. on August 30, 1982. He was a spree killer who killed his parents at the age of 15 on May 20, 1998 and was afterwards involved in a Thurston High School shooting. His shooting killed 4 students leaving 24 wounded. He used a 9mm Glock 19 pistol, 0.22 LR Ruger, 10/22 rifle, and an 0.22 RL Ruger MK II pistol. He had stolen his father’s arms which were found in his school locker the day before the school shooting. On being admonished, he shot his father in the back of his head and his mother in the heart. Both died at the spot in their home; father in the morning and mother in the evening. In November, 1999 he was sentenced to 111 years’ imprisonment without any possibility for parole.
2. Mary Flora Bell
Mary Flora Bell was born to McCrickett who was a prostitute and believed that Bell’s biological father was the notorious Billy Bell who had married McCrickett for some time. Bell was born on May 26, 1957. With the help of another girl accomplice, she killed 2 boys; four-year-old Martin Brown and three-year-old Brian Howe. Bell was 10 years old when she killed Martin Brown, and she was 11 years old when she killed Brian Howe. Bell was convicted of manslaughter on December 17, 1968. She had mutilated the body of Brian Howe and inscribed the letter “M” with a razor blade on his belly. She was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, an indefinite sentence of imprisonment.
3. Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson was born on August 23, 1982. He had another friend, John Venables, who was born on August 13, 1982. Both of them, at the age of 10 years old, abducted a boy, James Patrick Bulger, born on March 16, 1990 from New Strand Shopping Center in Bootle near Liverpool while he was accompanying his mother. They murdered him, and his mutilated body was found at a distance of four kilometers from a railway line of the Walton Station. Both were found guilty of murder on November 24, 1993. They were sentenced to custody until their reaching adulthood at the age of 18 years. In June, 2001, they were released on a lifelong license, but Venables was imprisoned again in 2010 for breach of the terms of the license.
4. Maurice Bailey
On November 6, 1993, 15-year-old Maurice Bailey, a high school student, killed his 15-year-old girlfriend Kristina Grill who was pregnant with his child. Maurice met Kristina at an elementary school on Saturday evening and, with his knife, stabbed her neck and upper body repeatedly. He zipped up Kristina’s jacket to hide the blood and, after concealing his knife in the nearby woods, went home. Police apprehended him soon after the crime, and he was indicted and convicted of murder and sentenced to life without any possibility for parole. He is 36 years old now and serving a life sentence at Fayette State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania.
5. Joshua Phillips
Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips, better known as Joshua Phillips, was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S. on March 17, 1984. At the age of 14 years, he killed an 8-year-old neighbor, Middie Clifton. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The murder was covered on a national scale by the television documentary Why Did Josh Kill presented on TV. Phillips’ mother found her waterbed leaking, and on checking she discovered the body of Middie whereupon she came screaming out of her room into the street. Police arrested Phillips, convicted him of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole because he was not eligible for the death penalty under Florida’s law.
6. Brenda Anne Spencer
Brenda Anne Spencer was born to Wallace Spencer and Dot Spencer in San Diego, California, U.S. on April 3, 1962. At the age of 16 years, on January 29, 1979, during a shooting spree from her San Diego home, she killed 2 persons and injured 9 others at Cleveland Elementary School. She had no repentance for her act, and her explanation for the act was “I don’t like Mondays; this livens up the day… I had no reason for it, and it was just a lot of fun. It was just like shooting ducks in a pond.” This statement inspired the Irish New Wave Band hit song “I Don’t Like Mondays.” She was sentenced to life imprisonment and is at the California Institute for Women in Chino, California.
7. James Terry Roach
James Terry Roach was born on February 18, 1960, and he was the second person to be executed by the electric chair on January 10, 1986 at the age of 25 years in the State of South Carolina after the Supreme Court reauthorized the state for capital punishment. At the age of 17 years, Roach raped and murdered a 14-year-old girl and also murdered her 17-year-old boyfriend. Judges declared that inspite of mitigating factors, the death penalty was warranted in this case, and the sentence was upheld by the South Carolina Supreme Court.
8. Johnny Frank Garrett
Johnny Frank Garrett was born on December 24, 1963 and was executed on February 11, 1992 for the rape and murder of a 76-year-old nun, Tadea Benz, on October 31, 1981. Overwhelming evidence against the accused was available for the court, and it was ultimately established that he raped the nun and stabbed her to death with a steak knife. Although he originally denied the charges but later confessed. An inmate and trustee of the Potter County Jail, Lonnie Watley testified that during his pre-trial confinement, Garrett admitted breaking into the convent and killing the nun. Garrett’s final statement was, “I’d like to thank my family for loving me and taking care of me, and the rest of the world can kiss ….”
9. Sean Richard Sellers
Sean Richard Sellers was born on May 18, 1969 and was executed on February 5, 1999 after being convicted for murder. He was 1 of the 22 murderers who committed the crime at an age under 18 years and was sentenced to death. He was younger than 17 at the time of committing the crime and had drawn the world’s attention on account of his age. On September 8, 1985, 16-year-old Sean Seller visited a convenience store and desired to purchase beer. The store clerk, Robert Bower, refused to sell him beer whereupon he shot him dead. In a letter written in the jail he confessed, “I got very involved in Satanism. I truly thought it was an honest way to live and the rituals of it would enable me to control my life.”
10. Napoleon Beazley
Napoleon Beazley was born on August 5, 1976 and was executed by lethal injection on May 28, 2002 by the state of Texas for murder. He had murdered 63-year-old John Luttig. He intended to steal the family car, a Mercedes Benz. In August the court voted 3-3 on Beazley’s request for a stay of execution. The tie vote culminated into a rejection and an ultimate execution which was the last execution in the U.S. for anyone who, at the time of crime, was under 18 years of age.
Experimentation with juvenile courts has failed, and what is needed is a pre-juvenile preventive action with a proactive approach. The quality of the seed needs to be ensured prior to sowing because, as you sow, so shall you reap. A murder once committed cannot be undone. Suspicious, growing kids should be isolated from the mainstream and should be extended special guidance and care for their reformation.