Cobb Count Judge Gregory Poole recently found a twelve year old boy not guilty of murdering his cousin. This ruling came immediately after the closing arguments were delivered in this tragic case involving the death of a five week old infant.
The boy, whose name has been withheld, was found guilty of two lesser charges of misdemeanor battery.
“What I found is that you did some things wrong,” the juvenile court judge explained to the young defendant. “I haven’t found you did something as bad as they say you did.”
Throughout the trail, Poole took action to make sure the boy understood what was happening, but to spare him the most graphic details of the autopsy, as well as minimize explicit language which may have been beyond the boy’s level.
Even so, while the boy said he understood the judge’s decision, it was not until after he spoke with his lawyer and grandmother that he began crying.
“Can I go home?” the boy asked. In this case, home means returning to his family and his home state of Florida.
The unfortunate answer was no. While found not guilty of murder, the boy’s fate is still undecided. Poole has delayed sentencing until January, but stated that his inclination was to give the boy probation and mandatory counseling.
“I do believe this child is in needs of services. I find that he is delinquent and in need of treatment, rehabilitation and supervision,” the judge said regarding his decision.
Derek Wright, the boy’s attorney, seemed satisfied with the results.
“This child was restored his childhood,” he said. “The ruling goes a long way in saying maybe he did something wrong and something he can learn from.”
Wright has expressed that he feels that through counseling, the boy will eventually be able to return to a normal life. And with the end of the trial, perhaps the boy’s family – a close knit family who regularly travel between states to visit one another – will also be able to start to return to a normal life.
“This family has suffered terrible loss. They lost someone and were at risk of losing another family member,” Wright said. “But there never was a time when the family chose sides, including [the infant’s mother] Brittany.”
And while the trial has no doubt been a strain on the family, there does seem to be some evidence that they are still attempting to maintain their bonds. At one point, the boy’s mother was observed offering comfort to her cousin, the deceased infant’s mother.
On July 4, the boy had been left alone with his infant cousin while her mother was inside a Target store. After 18 minutes of shopping, the mother returned to find her daughter unresponsive. The baby died the next day. The autopsy revealed the cause of death was blunt force trauma – a finding which prosecutors claimed was the result of the boy having shook his cousin and struck her head on some hard surface.
The boy declined to testify at his trial.