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Father of 12-year-old charged with killing his mom asks judge to keep him out of adult court

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Posted at 4:39 PM, Mar 13, 2024

A 12-year-old Milwaukee boy, charged with shooting and killing his mother because she wouldn't buy him a video game, is heading for a trial in adult court unless a judge intervenes. That was the topic of a hearing on Tuesday, March 12.

We are not naming the boy to comply with a judge's ruling to keep his identity private. He was in the courtroom reading books alongside his defense team during hours of testimony.

What’s being considered is called a reverse waiver process. Essentially, it’s an attempt to have the case sent through the juvenile court system, instead of the adult system.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge will decide whether the system can adequately deal with this child's needs and if adult court is the right place for him.

Police say the boy admitted to shooting his mother in November of 2022 after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset. He was charged as an adult because of the seriousness of the crime.

The hearing began with testimony from a child psychologist brought in by the defense.

"Understanding that what I did was wrong, it affected people, it affected me badly and I never want to do that again — that requires some pretty nimble therapy," said Dr. Steven Dykstra, a Milwaukee County clinical psychologist.

The boy’s defense team says he is on the schizophrenia spectrum and suffered a concussion before the shooting, both things that the state challenged.

"Could it also be that he was engaging in more impulsive and risk-taking behavior, causing him to fall off the swing, and then continuing to engage in that behavior?" asked the prosecution, directing the question toward Dr. Dykstra. "Sure, absolutely," he answered.

The boy's father was the final person to testify on Tuesday and told the court he has concerns about his son's mental health based on phone conversations they've had since he's been in custody. "I feel like something is missing or something is wrong, so to speak, because of those conversations," he explained.

He also testified that he wants his son's case moved to juvenile court.

For that to happen the boy’s defense team needs to prove several things, including, that the adult system doesn't have adequate treatment options for this child and that a move to children’s court won’t depreciate the seriousness of this case.

The hearing is set to resume April 29, when the state will call expert witnesses.