Michigan boy, 13, convicted of 1997 murder
November 16, 1999
PONTIAC, Michigan (CNN) -- Nathaniel Abraham, one of the nation's youngest murder defendants, was found guilty Tuesday of second-degree murder for shooting a teen-ager to death in 1997, when he was 11 years old.
A Michigan jury acquitted the 13-year-old on a charge of first-degree murder and two lesser charges in the shooting death of the 18-year-old.
With the second-degree murder conviction, the boy faces a maximum of life in prison with the possibility of parole. A first-degree murder charge could have meant life in prison without parole.
His case gained widespread attention as he became the first youth to be charged with first-degree murder and tried as an adult under a January 1997 Michigan law that allows adult prosecutions of children of any age in certain serious felony cases.
The jury deliberated over four days after listening to eight days of testimony.
Prosecutors had requested a so-called "blended sentence" in which Nathaniel would be held in a juvenile facility until he is 21. Prosecutors would then review his case to decide if he should be freed or sent to prison.
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Lisa Halushka said the verdict was a "victory for Nathaniel" because "he can now get the rehabilitation he says he needs."
She said it was also "justice for the family of Ronnie Greene," the victim of the shooting.
Defense: It was an accident
Nathaniel was charged with fatally shooting Ronnie Greene Jr. in the head while Greene stood at least 200 feet away outside a convenience store in Pontiac, a Detroit suburb.
Nathaniel admitted to police he fired the .22-caliber rifle but said he was aiming at trees. Defense lawyers, who called the shooting an accident, say the bullet that killed Greene ricocheted.
During the trial, 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 chastised 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 contributed to this report.
No verdict yet for young murder defendant
Court TV Online - T R I A L S - Michigan v. Abraham
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.