Young murder defendant awaits jury's decision
November 16, 1999
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN) -- A Michigan jury is meeting for a fourth day Tuesday in the case of 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham, one of the youngest murder defendants ever in the United States.
One of the defense attorneys said that Nathaniel was "scared to death" as he awaits the jury's decision.
The 12-person jury met for seven hours Monday before breaking for the day. It had deliberated more than 15 hours since last Wednesday.
Nathaniel is the youngest person ever in Michigan to be tried as an adult on first-degree murder charges, and prosecutors said he may be one of the youngest in the country.
He was 11 when police arrested him Halloween night in connection with the October 29, 1997, shooting death of 18-year-old Ronnie Greene Jr. Nathaniel admitted firing a .22-caliber rifle, but said he was shooting at trees and did not mean to hit Greene, who was standing 200-288 feet away in front of a suburban Pontiac convenience store.
Nathaniel was still wearing his trick-or-treating costume when he was arrested.
Defendant could face life sentence
Nathaniel, who was 11 when he was arrested, is standing trial as an adult. Michigan law allows prosecutors to charge children under 14 as adults for certain crimes. If convicted of murder, he could face life in prison.
Prosecutors have said they would ask for a blended sentence, meaning Nathaniel would be held in a juvenile facility until age 21, then his case would be reviewed to decide if he should be freed or sent to prison.
In addition to first-degree murder, jurors had the option to consider lesser charges, such as second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and negligent discharge of a firearm resulting in death.
Defense: It was an accident
During the trial, Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Halushka urged jurors not to be swayed by the youngster's age. Nathaniel had practiced firing the rifle, bragged about wanting to shoot someone and had the capacity to form an intent to kill, she said.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger criticized authorities for charging Nathaniel with murder as an adult, keeping the youth locked up for two years and for shackling his ankles.
Expert witnesses called by Fieger said Nathaniel had the mental capacity of a 6-year-old at the time of the killing and could not have formed the intent to kill necessary for a first-degree murder conviction.
The defense also said the boy had no motive for killing Greene because he didn't know him.
Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten and Reuters contributed to this report.
Jurors to resume deliberating fate of 13-year-old murder defendant Monday
Court TV Online - T R I A L S - Michigan v. Abraham
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