ad info

 Headline News brief
 daily almanac
 CNN networks
 CNN programs
 on-air transcripts
 news quiz

CNN Websites
 video on demand
 video archive
 audio on demand
 news email services
 free email accounts
 desktop headlines

 message boards




Defense attorney: Find teen guilty of manslaughter, not murder


CNN's Susan Candiotti provides an overview of the case
Real 28K 80K
Windows Media 28K 80K
Crime and Punsihment

Case goes to jury

July 8, 1999
Web posted at: 11:50 a.m. EDT (1550 GMT)

BARTOW, Florida (CNN) -- The fate of a 15-year-old boy accused of killing his 8-year-old neighbor - then stuffing her body under his bed - landed in the hands of a jury on Thursday, after his attorney made a last-ditch plea for the panel to find the teen guilty of manslaughter.

"We're not here to act out some sort of vengeance," said defense attorney Richard Nichols during his closing argument.

Joshua Phillips is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Maddie Clifton.

A day earlier, in opening statements, Nichols said there is no dispute that Phillips killed Clifton, but he argued that his client is not guilty of premeditated murder as prosecutors claim.

"Because of an act that began as an accident and deteriorated through panic that bordered on madness, he engaged in a monstrous act," Nichols said.

Prosecutor Harry Shorstein said the boy was guilty of "three vicious attacks" in which he hit the girl with a baseball bat, cut her throat and then repeatedly stabbed her before hiding her body beneath his waterbed in his parents' Jacksonville, Florida, home on November 3, 1998.

He is asking the jury to convict Phillips of premeditated murder.

Phillips -- who was 14 at the time of the alleged killing -- would not face the death penalty if convicted. Under Florida law, the death penalty cannot be imposed on anyone under the age of 16.

A first-degree murder conviction would bring a maximum life sentence. The judge instructed the jurors that if they find the defendant not guilty of first-degree murder, they can also consider second-degree murder or manslaughter charges.

By admitting Phillips' role in the killing, defense attorneys hope that jurors will accept a manslaughter charge that carries a maximum 15-year sentence.

Prosecution rests in trial of teen accused of killing neighbor girl
July 7, 1999
Jury selected for teen accused of killing neighbor child
July 6, 1999
Florida boy charged as adult in neighbor's murder
November 19, 1998
Florida to try 14-year-old as adult in killing of playmate
November 16, 1998
Missing girl's body found under neighbor's bed
November 10, 1998

The Jimmy Ryce Center for the Victims of Predatory Abduction
  • Maddie Clifton
Maddie Clifton Memorial
Keep Maddie's Memory Alive! - Remembering Maddie
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.