The teenager who admitted to killing a 12-year-old girl in a case that has riveted New Jersey was to find out whether a judge would accept or reject the plea deal negotiated by his defense team with the court. The plea, which moved his case from juvenile crimes to an adult court, would bring a 17-year prison sentence, 14 years of which would have to be served before the defendant would be eligible for parole. An online petition signed by 8,400 people and a demonstration of 160 people, however, were demanding more prison time for the murder.
An attorney familiar with the case said that changing the plea might actually hurt their cause. If the judge does rescind the consequences outlined in the plea deal, then the defendant would have the right to rescind his guilty plea as well. Under the plea agreement, the judge could hand the defendant a sentence of less than 17 years, but not more. If the judge wanted to sentence him to more prison time, he would have to throw out both the plea agreement and the guilty plea itself.
The 12-year-old girl was found in a recycling bin next to the defendant’s house, but the prosecution had to be careful in how it handled the case, since there was no forensic evidence that made it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that the teen was the killer. All prosecutors had was the admission of guilt and his guilty plea.
Juvenile crimes may be serious crimes. A New Jersey attorney with experience in defending those accused of underage crimes may be able to offer assistance.