10-year-old accused of murdering his mother makes first court appearance

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The 10-year-old Milwaukee boy accused of shooting and killing his mother appeared in court for the first time Wednesday. The boy did not speak and was not seen on video. He is being tried as an adult for now, prompting many people to call for change.

Wisconsin state law requires offenders over the age of 10 be tried as adults at first on certain charges, including first-degree reckless homicide as in this case.

That could change and the case could be moved to juvenile court, but for now the 10-year-old boy faces decades in prison if convicted.

Sylvester Jackson is the co-founder of Believers of Change. He said, "If we can't rehabilitate, what do we have the criminal justice system for?"

Jackson has previously been incarcerated. He says assessing adult punishments for crimes committed before a child's brain has developed only makes things worse.

He said he's seen childhood development stop when teens go to prison, and many never recover even after they get out. "You're engulfed with fear because you're being told you could be put away for 60 years. And that's enough to scare anyone, not to mention a 10-year-old or a young child."

Jackson was one of several speakers at a rally Tuesday, calling for the 10-year-old to be tried in juvenile court. For now, though, he remains in adult court.

Wednesday's hearing was short and straightforward, and only one thing was decided.

Judge Kristela Cervera said, "This case will be administratively transferred to Branch 39, the Honorable Judge Jane Carroll, due to the time commitment anticipated." Judge Carroll is the presiding judge of children's court.

The boy was present at hearing, but the judge allowed his video to remain off. He was not asked a question during the hearing. His father also dialed in remotely to listen in.

In Wisconsin, if a child is convicted as an adult they would stay in a children's facility until they turn 18 and then would transfer to an adult facility.

Jackson says any crime is horrific, especially the one alleged to have been committed by the 10-year-old, but he says even more damage would be done if this case stays in adult court. "It doesn't make sense the way we're allowing the judicial system to throw away children's lives before they've even begun, based upon crime."

The boy is currently being held in a juvenile facility on $50,000 bond.

His next status hearing is Dec. 14 at 3:30 in the afternoon.

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