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Former Marion County prosecutor explains process to try juveniles in adult court

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — In the early morning hours of Oct. 10, a woman was shot and killed at her home on Windsor Street. Since then, a 13-year-old has been charged in the case and now prosecutors are pushing for him to be tried as an adult.

The waiver was filed Wednesday.

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi says those decisions aren’t made right away. After the prosecutor files a motion to wave the child into adult court, a hearing takes place to determine if that’s appropriate.

“For a court to decide, for a prosecutor to convince a jury that a child is basically unredeemable, that they can’t be rehabilitated, is kind of a big hurdle,” Brizzi said.

Brizzi says there is a major difference between the juvenile and adult justice system — and once someone is tried as an adult, there is no going back.

“If you get convicted, you’re going to prison, which is an institution for adult predators and many times, young people are put in isolation and other forms in order to protect them from the predators they’re incarcerated with, and that certainly doesn’t do anything for any sort of rehabilitation,” Brizzi said.

He says a formal investigation into the teen’s background will be key. Brizzi explained that if there is evidence the teen had been abused or neglected, a case could likely be made for him to get help instead of several years in prison.

Brizzi says for the waiver to be successful and for the teen to be tried in adult court, every person in the hearing would have to agree and determine the child is unredeemable and rehabilitation won’t help.

He says judges and juries typically lean that way if the child has a history of violence or has been involved in other serious crimes.

“A life was taken, it could not be any more serious. Nothing that happens after the fact can bring that back, right? Now, what you do as law enforcement and people in charge of keeping the streets safe and doing the right thing for society, you have to kind of step back from the emotion and make the decision about what’s best for the community and what’s best for the child,” Brizzi said.

A hearing date for the prosecutor’s request has not been set. At this time, the name of the teen has not been released.

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