Fifth grader Tristen Kurilla is facing adult murder charges after the 10-year-old boy allegedly killed a 90-year-old woman named Helen Novak. But some believe that it “defies all logic” to have such a young person face the repercussions of adult homicide laws.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, the accused killer is currently being held in isolation, and it’s claimed the Kurilla family does not want him back since they are not ready to have him released into their custody.
According to previous reports, on October 11 Tristen Kurilla was visiting with his grandfather when, for unknown reasons, he entered Helen Novak’s bedroom, an older woman that Kurilla’s grandfather had taken in so he could care for her. When Kurilla asked Novak a question after entering her room, Novak got upset, yelled at the boy, and asked him to leave the room. Kurilla then became enraged and allegedly used her cane to hook her by the neck and pulled her back to the bed. Allegedly, once she was back on the bed, Kurilla pressed her cane against her neck and repeatedly hit her in the neck and stomach.
According to a police affidavit, Tristen Kurilla told investigators, “I killed that lady. I was only trying to hurt her.” The boy’s attorney, Bernard Brown, believes Tristen does not fully comprehend what is happening and the boy even compared his prison jumpsuit to “a Halloween costume he would probably never wear.”
Based upon Pennsylvania law, prosecutors were required to charge the fifth grader in criminal court and house him in an adult correctional facility since homicide charges must be filed in adult court. But multiple experts believe this decision is incorrect.
Melissa Sickmund, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, asks, “They’re not even mature enough to make a decision about whether they smoke or drink and yet we’re going to hold them as criminally responsible as a 45- or 50-year-old?”
Marsha Levick, deputy director and chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center, believes that Tristen does not have the capacity to fully comprehend the situation in comparison to an adult.
“It’s ridiculous….The idea of prescribing criminal responsibility to a 10-year-old defies all logic,” said Levick. “The Supreme Court has recognized that teens and adolescents hold lesser culpability. Their brains are obviously still developing and they’re developmentally immature. Multiply that for a 10-year-old.”
The parents of Tristen Kurilla have described the boy as having “mental difficulties” and a mental health evaluation is pending. According to CBS, Brown is seeking to have the case transferred to juvenile court.
[Image via CBS]