Police have charged three teens in the killing of a 35-year-old man whose vehicle they were purportedly carjacking. The North Carolina teenagers all face charges of murder. Detained were a 12-year-old girl and a 14-year-old girl, both residents of Raleigh, and a 16-year-old boy from Durham.
During the incident, the 12-year-old shot herself accidentally, according to police reports, and is now being treated for her injuries before being placed in a juvenile detention facility. The 14-year-old girl was immediately placed in such a facility, while the boy was booked into a county jail after being denied bond.
Investigators claimed that the three teens came across the motorist on the street at approximately 7 p.m. on a Friday night and requested that he give them a ride. Shortly after they got in the SUV he was driving, police say, they shot and killed him, then drove off in his vehicle.
The SUV was later recovered, with the injured 12-year-old not far away. Police have not stated which of the teenagers they are claiming shot the man.
In an unrelated incident, Raleigh police also arrested four young teenagers on accusations that they murdered a homeless man. Those charged included three 15-year-old boys and a 13-year-old boy. The 13-year-old was subsequently released, although he still faces juvenile proceedings. Local prosecutors indicated that the three older boys may be prosecuted for first-degree murder in an adult court. They stated their belief that the killing may have been part of a gang initiation.
Accusations of crime involving juveniles in North Carolina have dropped in recent years. In the last decade, the number of those under age 16 charged with violent crimes in the state has decreased by close to 37 percent. Property crimes which teenagers were accused of committing also fell by approximately 40 percent in the same time period.
The question for North Carolina lawmakers and its already troubled justice system is whether juvenile programs are effective or whether the state has a more serious juvenile crime problem than the statistics indicate.
Source: Raleigh News & Observer, “Recent homicide cases raise questions about juvenile crime,” Anne Blythe, Dec. 31, 2012