This week’s article is a doozy: a 12-year old boy allegedly shot and killed a 24-year old man as he sat in his own home. Allegedly the boy was seen running from the home in all black clothing, including a black bandanna covering his face. Check out the story HERE .

Texas penal law prohibits sentencing a person under age 14 to the death penalty. As a result, the boy can be sentenced up to 40 years in prison. At some point after conviction, he’d be certified as an adult and complete his 40-year sentence in an adult facility.

Assuming nothing changes with this story, here are 3 questions:

  1. Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
  2. Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
  3. What penalty do you believe is fair and just. Explain.

20 Comments on Seventh Grader Arrested for Capital Murder

  1. Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder?
    No, society should not be allowed to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder. Children and adolescents are still developing. Nothing of their being is set in stone. If a child, especially a 12 year, kills someone there is something else going on. Yes, children are taught from an early age what is right and what is wrong–killing someone (hopefully) being one of those wrong things; but children are easily manipulated, led astray, and many cannot comprehend the complexities of the law. Was this child thinking about how he is breaking the law when did this? I doubt it. There is something else array here…there is some other aspect of neglect, abuse, or illness that is unknown or not shared. Also, how did he get the gun and learn to shoot it–I am not expert but a headshot takes some skill, right?

    Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder? I feel like there are too many unanswered questions for a black or white answer on whether to lock the kid up or not…but I believe the kid should not be locked up in juvenile detention/prison. If it comes out that the child had the intent to kill the man, with no logical reason, obviously there is something wrong with the child. If the child killed in self-defense, then there is obviously something wrong with parents and the child is traumatized. Just the fact the child lives with a firearm that is not properly locked up is cause for concern. Again, there are a lot of questions, but I do not believe they should lock the child up either.

    What penalty do you believe is fair and just? Psychological treatment is the most fair and just penalty. Whether this child killed because he wanted to, killed in self-defense, or it truly was an accident, there are aspects of this child and their life that have caused severe mental disturbance and trauma. Locking a child up will not aid in rehabilitation and killing a child is inhumane.

  2. 1. Society should absolutely not be allowed to execute a child for capital murder because they’re exactly that, a child. Their brains are still developing and they are still trying to figure out who they are. He should definitely be getting some sort of help after this event because it can be traumatic if you don’t talk to someone about it especially with him being so young.

    2. Society should not be allowed to lock up a 12 year old because they are minors still and they can’t support themselves. That’s only 6th or 7th grade. If they went to juvy they would be with boys older than him and the possibility for abuse heightens.

    3. I would need more information to decide this. Some sort of consequence needs to happen to let him know that was not an acceptable reaction. What was the motive? What was the exact situation? Where are his parents and who is raising him/what environment is he subjected to everyday? Also does he have a mental illness?

  3. 1. Based on the provided information, I do not believe that society should be able to execute at 12 year old for capital murder. Although he did commit the crime, his brain is not fully developed. Adolescents have a higher likelihood of impulsivity, lack of good judgment, and illogical reasoning. In my experience, when asked if a situation is immoral or wrong, must teens can answer correctly. However, when a situation arises and the teen makes a silly/stupid decision, he or she often cannot articulate WHY he or she did it. Murder is the extreme example of a lack of self-control; most teens would not escalate to that level of violence without prior incidents, brain trauma, abuse, or experienced violence directly. I believe that there is more to this story, but ultimately, I do not believe in the execution of 12 year olds.

    2. I do believe that this child and, presumably others like him, should be incarcerated for capital murder. I support the placement of youths in a juvenile detention with program support for emotional and psychological disorders, therapy and counseling for addiction and abuse victims, and general education. Upon turning 18 years old, I support a transfer to an adult facility. I do support parole/probation incentives in this situation based on treatment, rehabilitation, and “good behavior”.

    3. I do believe that a life sentence does sound harsh because the accused is so young. I wonder how he got to this point in his life, where was his family, what is his connection to the deceased, etc. Most Americans believe that the punishment should fit the crime and that one death balances another; however, what is “fair and just” is so subjective that judges and jurors across the nation would see this 100 different ways. Because I am missing so much of the context of this boy’s life, I am not sure what a “fair and just” punishment would be. I do believe in consistent punishment, but strongly oppose “truth in sentencing” requirements because they fail to take into account treatment, rehabilitation, and “good behavior”.

  4. I think this is a very interesting case to learn about. Overall I believe that society should not be able to execute a 12 year old boy. As little as we know it could be an accident, or self defense, the world will never truly know especially from someone with such a young age. I believe that only having 12 years on Earth is not enough time to get the true experience.
    I do believe that child should be punished though as an adult. I think the 40 year sentence could suite the situation but only to some extent. I do not think that someone of such young age should just be giving the maximum penalty when we cannot see the full story behind the closed doors.
    Overall I think the correct judgment would be to keep him in juvenile custody until the story unfolds a little more. Even until the age of 18 when he can be trialed as an adult, but that case would then be up to the child and the child personal state could be better addressed into the fact of consideration if that individual would try to murder once again if they ever got out of the prison or confinement.

  5. 1) I think it depends on the severity of the crime and also the motive behind the crime. Execution is a HUGE step and it seems harsh to execute a 12-year old boy. I am not saying that he should get away with the crime, there should be a punishment a harsh one at that but for this specific crime I don’t think execution is the correct route to take. But, there are other crimes (mass shootings come to mind) where I do think execution could be a reasonable punishment.

    2) Yes, I do believe society should be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder. This goes back to the saying “you do the crime you do the time”. By letting this or other young men off they begin to repeat these behaviors because they think they can get away with it. If you are old enough to commit a serious crime then you are showing society that you are old enough to be punished for that crime.

    3) I do think prison time/ jail time is necessary for a crime like this. A small offense I would most likely say differently but for a crime like the one above some serious time is needed. I am not saying that the boy deserves to be locked up for the rest of his life but I am also not saying that the boy should only get 1 year locked up. There has to be something go on deeper or some reason why the boy did what he did and he should have to learn from this. You can’t kill someone and expect to walk away with no punishment. I know people will argue and say how young he is. But, if it was one of your friends/family that got murdered by a young person I am almost positive your opinions would shift. Think about things from different perspectives. A little leniency is okay but like I said “you do the crime you do the time”.

  6. I do not think a 12-year-old should be executed for capital murder. I think that children of that age aren’t fully capable of thinking rationally or even understand the harm being done. With this little information, we don’t know what was going through this boy’s head or if it even was a premeditated act. That doesn’t mean that I believe this boy shouldn’t be punished. If an adult was in question here, I would have a different view on execution, and I certainly wouldn’t think that 40 years would be enough punishment. But for a child, even 40 years sound a little excessive to me, especially in an adult facility any time prior to reaching adulthood, and without thorough investigation and psych evaluations. I would suggest a mental institution first to figure out what let the 12-year-old to commit such a violent act, if he is mentally ill or not and why and whether there are any mitigating factors. Then according to results, either apply treatment if necessary or transfer him into a prison facility to serve a sentence. But if that was 40 years and he’d be 52 years old when he gets out, I don’t see how he would be capable of coping with society after being removed from it for so many years and I think we’d see him back in the prison system because that would be the only thing he knows and feels somewhat comfortable with.

  7. Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder?

    Depending of the crime execution would be a solution to some extent, but since the boy is at a young age of 12 I do not believe he should be executed for his doings. At such a young age, adolescents are developing in learning about our society at a whole and learning from what is right and what is wrong. Obviously murder is that in the wrong, but the reason behind the boy killing the older man, there had to be an underlying issue in which made him do so. Just as the girls that allegedly stabbed their friend due to impress a mythical online character named Slender Man was sentenced to 25 years in a mental institution. Not to be executed but definitely deservers punishment and reinforcement on the actions he took.

    Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder?

    I do however believe that even being at such a young age, the boy knows the sense of what he was doing and because of this he should be put into a juvenile detention center for some time. Working on physical, emotional and physiological disorders. With counseling and treatment, soon to be an adult he shall be transported to an adult facility, as this may also have an impact on him learning about his actions and learning from what is allowed and not. With further counseling and treatment possibly the use of a parole or probation officer will be offered if his behavior tends to improve and his want to working towards a better life shall be available.

    What penalty do you believe is fair and just. Explain.

    I believe the most fair penalty that could be given is to attend a juvenile detention facility, with reoccurring counseling meetings as well as treatments to see where he is emotionally and physiologically. After spending some time with those who are further investigating the situation, as the boy meets the adult age I believe he should have time to sit in an adult facility, to get the sense of what it would be like if he were to commit a crime like he did now that he is of an adult age. This could benefit him in a way of getting a greater outlook on life and where he doesn’t want to be the rest of his life. He does need time to sit and think about his actions, even though he committed them at such a young age, he should face time.

  8. 1. Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
    I personally don’t believe a 12-year old should be executed for any crime even with it being capital murder. I don’t believe in the death penalty anyway let alone for children who commit crimes. When I was 12, I wasn’t even allowed to stay up past 9:30 pm on a school night, let alone capable of making well informed rational decisions. I personally think that capital punishment doesn’t make the purpose deal with the consequences of their crim and is more of an early cope out. I wish some criminals like people who abuse children but I don’t believe that it’s anyone’s place to do that.
    2. Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
    I do not believe that this boy should be sentenced to 40 years in prison. I believe he should be in jail and punished but not for 40 years. At 12 we aren’t even half developed and unable to make rational decisions. Sending someone to prison has sever life long consequences and sending a 12-year-old to prison for 40 years will make life after prison drastically different.
    3. What penalty do you believe is fair and just. Explain.
    I believe that the 12-year-old boy should go to prison but within this facility should recieve counseling and school to make him prepared for life and help him continue to develop. I don’t believe he should be held within an adult facility until a child is 18. If you aren’t considered an adult in society you shouldn’t be held in an adult facility. I believe that this child should be held until 18 and then the court should evaluate how he has developed, if he is remorseful, if he has learned a lesson per say. Then the court should reevaluate in 5 year increments after turning 18.

  9. holy shit, okay, this is going to be difficult, bare with me I had to do a little digging to get further background on this, granted this event is less than a week old so new information will be coming along following my comment.

    1. should society be able to execute a 12 year old boy on capital murder? No. Since this story broke on January 25, 2019 new information has come to light, according to information by News4SA, the suspect had lived with John VanMeter, his fiancée, and his fiancée’s son. According to the suspects father, the boy had been taking up boxing lessons from VanMeter and trained with VanMeters’ fiancée son, simultaneously, VanMeter had been bullying both the suspect and his fiancees son. A 12 yar old should not have to be executed to a potential psychological break down. The suspect has possibly been bullied and lived with the victim for a couple months prompting the question of, was he abused at his parents home? neglected? and as Kelsey Wojczak stated in the above comment, his brain hasn’t fully developed to assess that the issue could be short term, but found a long term solution. According to ABC 13 Eyewitness news, VanMeters girlfriend and her mother have stated that the boy was a trouble maker, and that the suspect and VanMeters fiancée’s son would go about the town of Uvalde to steal candy, he has never committed an act of murder prior to this event.

    2. Should society be able to lock up a 12 year old boy on capital murder? Yes. I believe the boy should be held accountable for what he has done, yet there is the case of having him go into a Juvenile detention and facing trial once he is 18. This could give adequate time to determine if he truly is a danger to society or if he can be treated in some sort of psychiatric hospital. the boy stepped up from stealing, to murder, he should not be given a lot of leniency for his actions.

    3. I believe the best form of potential rehabilitation for this boy has somewhat been answered already from question #2, have the boy in a Juvenile detention until the age of 18, this gives 6 years of study and observation. While in detention, still achieve his education (obtain GED or other forms of special need education). once 18, put on trail as an adult and have testimony from those that have looked over him from the past 6 years and determine if he should be place in a psychiatric hospital, or endure jail/prison time. During the boys time in either a ward or jail, have evaluations take place and reevaluations with the judge and the boys overseers and determine if he should stay, or go on to probation.

    1. I dont believe that society should execute a 12 year old boy, just do to the age. Adults make mistakes and do things that they regret and wish could change let alone a 12 year old boy. The boy’s life would end before it was even remotely close to getting started.

      I do believe that the boy should go to prison and serve the time. Since he is underage I would say to serve in a juvenile detention until he reaches 18 then serve the remainder of the time at an adult prison. After all, he did commit a very heinous crime and should have to serve the punishment.

      I believe what I stated in the paragraph above relates to this as well. He will serve some Time with other adolescents and then go to a big boy prison. He can also get help and work on better himself throughout the process. And hopefully the crime he committed does not dictate his life.

  10. 1. I do not think a 12-year-old should be executed for capital murder for the simple fact that executions do not really deter criminals. Therefore I believe if the 12-year-old knew he could be executed I believe he still would have committed the crime. However, if the 12-year-old did something much worse such as a killing spree killing multiple people then yes I think the state should be able to execute the child because he will most likely never be able to grow up to become a benefactor to society.
    2. I do believe that believe that a 12-year-old boy should be able to be locked up for committing a crime like murder and so on. The boy is 12 years old he knows right from wrong at the age of 12. Therefore he should be locked up for it. There is not a single 12-year old that does not know that murdering someone is wrong, so yes he should be locked up.
    3. The penalty that I believe is fair and just is to have the boy put into prison and not exected. Therefore in prison, the boy can receive counseling and even schooling so he would come out of prison without a GED if he ever gets out that is. The reason he should be put into prison is that unless he is mentally unstable he knows what he did was wrong and he should be punished for it.

  11. 1. No, society should not be able to execute a 12-year old for capital murder. Although he is old enough to understand right from wrong, I think it all comes down to what his parents or people who raised this boy considered right and wrong? I would certainly hope that he knows murder is wrong but what else is going on in his head? I think it is so much more important to get to the root cause of this boy’s actions than to execute him or lock him up.
    2. Yes, I think for now society should be able to incarcerate a 12-year old for capital murder, however, I believe a juvenile facility is enough until his mental status is evaluated. He needs to be thoroughly assessed to determine his background and whether he has suffered any trauma. If so, he is 12, he is malleable, and he should be allowed the chance to rehabilitate. If it is determined that he is mentally stable and he did commit murder just for the sake of committing murder then yes, he should eventually be sent to an adult facility.
    3. I think a sufficient punishment for this boy, given his age, would be juvenile detention for now. I’m only suggesting this because I think he does still need to be held accountable for his actions, however, I do think this boy would benefit the most from some intensive psychotherapy. There has to me more to this story and as of now, I don’t feel like we have been provided with enough information. I would like to know who has raised this child and what their social history and criminal background looks like. The greatest question that needs to be answered here is, what kind of trauma has this boy endured to provoke him to commit murder?

  12. I do not believe a 12 year old child should be eligible for the death penalty, regardless of the crime. Capital punishment is meant to be reserved for the most harsh of crimes, and for those criminals who are not only believed to be too dangerous to even continue to live, but for those criminals who are expected to never repent their dangerous ways. I do not believe a 12 year old has the mental capacity to understand not only how severe a crime murder is, but also how they could not fully understand the consequences of their actions.
    I do believe, however, that a 12 year old has to be correctly handled by the criminal justice system for committing a crime so serious, not only including murder, but any felony that could be charged to an adult. This 12 year old may not fully understand what he has done, but he certainly knows it must be wrong to kill. I absolutely think a 12 year old has the right to be put in prison, if not for longer, for capital murder. It is most certainly possibly that 40 years is too short for this horrible crime.
    In conclusion, I believe the current punishment is almost certainly fair, as this 12 year old must certainly be incarcerated in my opinion. I also believe it is fair to send him to prison for possibly even longer than 40 years, with maybe even 50 or 60 years being in the fair and just range for this case. I do believe the child has the right to be able to parole his way out of prison, if he shows remorse for his actions and is willing to have a clean record in prison. Furthermore, I believe that if this act was done out of anger, then anger management treatment could become part of his parole conditions, if he so chooses to participate in that.

  13. 1. I do not think that society should be able to execute a 12 year old boy for capital murder. It is simply because executing him is not going to do any good for anyone. He is still a teenager, who might be having a hard time to control his emotions and temptations. It is not the age that we consider a person to be ‘logical enough’ to make the right decision. Most of us had an incident when we were young where we caused trouble for others. However, we had adults around us to direct us to the right path with continuous attention and care. The boy who is a 12 year old has many more years left in his life. He has more years left than the years that he lived. Rather than executing him, I do believe that there are enough time to at least try to rehabilitate him. This is first time that he had committed a serious crime. It is indeed sad and unfortunate that a man had to die, but I think the boy deserves at least one more chance.
    2. I think it depends on the place where you lock up this 12 year old boy. Jails and prisons, as we all know very well, is a place where he can be a victim of other types of violence. I do not think it is going to help him and the society in any way. I do agree with detaining him at home or a juvenile detention facility for certain period of time with continuing counseling sessions and other type of therapies. Since he did commit a serious crime, he does need some sort of detention and treatments.
    3. The answers for this question is somewhat overlapping with what I have mentioned above. He should be detained in the juvenile detention facility. However, he should be able to get all the education he deserves and counseling sessions. People should keep an eye on him, but at the same time, always remember that he should be treated differently from a 42 year old man who committed a same crime as the boy.

  14. 1.) I absolutely disagree that a 12-year old boy should be executed for capital murder. While I believe that without a doubt the child should be severely punished, that being said there should still be a very lengthy sentencing for the crime of capital murder. 12 years old is old enough to know the differences between right and wrong, therefore should be treated that way. The mind of a 12-year old is also not even fully developed, the punishment should be aimed at rehabilitating the kid to eventually reintegrate with society if deemed possible. Human life is valuable, even if the child took a life it doesn’t warrant taking/ending another.

    2.) I believe society should absolutely be able to lock a 12-year old boy up for capital murder. A child being charged for murder is pretty intense, obviously there is something cognitively wrong with that child. Like previously stated I believe the child should be held in some sort of facility that’s goal is to eventually rehabilitate the child into rejoining society one day. The child should obviously have a psychiatric evaluation and have routine sessions and access with a psychiatrist.

    3.) I believe that the crime warrants jail/prison time. Being 12-years old, I would want the child to be incarcerated at a juvenile detention facility with the focus being mainly on a psychiatric evaluation and rehabilitating the child if possible. In countries such as Germany, a majority of convicted murders receive the punishment of 5-15 years with the focus being on rehabilitating the individual back into society. I believe the same should be the focus for convicted children in the US. Once they reach 18, they should be moved to a prison facility that offers a program of learning a skilled trade or earning a degree before being reintegrated into society.

  15. 1) Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
    I think execution should only be used for people who are a serious threat to society. Therefore, I don’t believe a 12 year old should be executed for capital murder. He is a minor and his brain isn’t completely developed. In addition, there is no information on his mental state, family life, and motives – which could also be factors of his actions.
    2) Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder? Explain.
    I believe society should be able to lock up the 12-year old. When you’re 12, you have a pretty good idea of what what is right and what is wrong. I also think there should be counseling to help him rehabilitate.
    3)What penalty do you believe is fair and just. Explain
    I think I need more information on this scenario in order to form an opinion. I don’t know the boy’s mental state, his background, where he learned to shoot a gun, and why he killed the boxer. I believe these are all important factors for determining a penalty because it gives the background of what led him to committing such a serious crime.

  16. Should society be able to execute a 12-year old boy for capital murder?

    I do not think society should execute a 12-year old boy regardless of the crime. Like I have seen in other classes, it is more expensive to execute people than keep them in prison for the rest of their life. Plus, he is a child, in the eyes of the law kids this age are not completely cognitively developed. They can be easily manipulated and also they are not able to understand what the law is. Also, a 12 year old boy is found guilty and executed and later found he is actually not guity
    You can’t bring the child back to life and pardon him. He’s dead.

    Should society be able to lock up a 12-year old boy for capital murder?
    Yes they should. If they committed a serious crime you can’t just take it easy on them. If a 12 year old commits a serious crime, he or she already has criminogenic tendencies. They should be put into another facility until he or she is 18 then moved into the adult population. Also, some type of therapy should be offered as soon as they get locked up. Therapy when young, could mold the kid into changing their criminal behavior.

    What penalty do you believe is fair and just. Explain.
    In this situation, I am not sure what the appropriate punishment should be. I would need a lot more information on the case. I did notice it was kind of weird a 12 year old boy could work a gun perfectly and be able to get a headshot 🤷🏻‍♀️

  17. 1. I do not think society should be able to execute a 12yr old. Execution in my opinion is for adults who “know better”, and presumably we identity people as adults at age 18. 12yr olds still are developing the sense between right and wrong. I’m not justifying this 12yr old boy for shooting some guy in the head. But without knowing the background of the case, execution should not be the first thing that comes to mind. Being only 12, the boy has his whole life ahead of him. At this point, we should be seeing how we can change this boy for the better, and hopefully help him develop into a successful member of society. Later on down the road, maybe it’s conclusive that he can’t be. You just cross that bridge when you come to it. First evaluate, then proceed. But also, if execution is going to be on the table, the person needs to at least be 18.

    2. My answer to this question will likely follow along the same lines as to what I answered for the previous question. Obviously this 12yr old boy committed capital murder, by technicality. But my brain is wired to further investigate, instead of jumping right to punhsiment and correction. Should society be able to lock up a 12yr old boy for capital murder? Yes, but that does not mean you put him on super max and leave him there. He needs more of an evaluation, therapeutic correction and development, and then (hopefully) release. Any child under these specific circumstances needs to help, evaluation, attention. We need to see if it’s posible to rehabilitate, or if there is a life long issue at hand. Locking someone up may not mean they are they forever. We as a society are just making sure they are fit to live successfully amongst others.

    3. With all of the being said, I believe generally that punishments should be based on individual evaluation. Not everyone is fit to sustain or be corrected from the same punishment. So we shouldn’t expect everyone, especially kids, to “learn their lesson” the same way. I keep referring back to the same thoughts, and that is the concept of analyze, evaluat, rehabilit, and release. Especially when you are working with young child and sometimes even young adults. There is still room and hope for improvement to develop and become a successful member of society.

  18. I don’t think a twelve year old should be executed for capital murder. I think the death penalty is usually reserved for people who commit heinous crimes and are old enough for this particular sentence to not be considered inhumane. While what he did was definitely wrong and should definitely be punished, I don’t think executing a child is the way to go.
    With that being said, I do think think we should be able to lock him for forty years. As was mentioned, he’ll spend the first however many years in a juvenile detention center before being placed in an adult correctional facility, so he is not being thrown to the wolves right away. Also, if he is given the chance of parole, as well as good behavior, after serving his mandatory minimum sentence he could possibly walk free before the end of the forty year sentence. That’s why I think forty years is a good idea because this way he’ll at least serve some, if not all, of the time given for his crime.
    I think a forty year sentence with a mandatory minimum of thirty years to serve and a transfer to an adult facility at the age of 18 is a fair and just sentence. Assuming he’s still twelve when he’s sentenced and that my recommended sentence is used, this kid would be fairly young when he’s released. If serving the absolute minimum, he’ll be forty- two years and he’ll still have a chance to live a life as he hopefully tries to make- up for what he’s done. As far as being transferred to an adult facility at eighteen, I feel like there are many kids sent to an adult facility when they’re sixteen or seventeen years old without ever spending time in a juvenile detention center after sentencing so giving him the extra year or two in a juvenile detention center is a luxury.

  19. 1. I do not think society should execute a 12 year old for capital murder. The death penalty should be done to criminals who are older and commit horrible crimes. Now what the 12 year old boy did was absolutely wrong and horrific but I don’t think the 12 year old was in the right mind set with his age to be sentenced that harshly with the death penalty.

    2. I think society should absolutely be able to lock up a 12 year old who committed capital murder. He should be sentenced to at least 25 years and possibly be able to be released on parole pending how he behaves in prison. Since he is 12, he should be serving his years in a juvenile detention center and then when he turns 18, be transferred to a prison for adults.

    3. I would need more information on the case in order to give a good answer. I feel as if he should be evaluated to make sure there isn’t any mental illnesses and he definitely should serve time in prison to learn from his mistakes. In my opinion is it strange that a 12 year old had access to a gun and knew how to shoot it let alone shoot someone in the head.

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