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Kansas teen will face murder, robbery charges in adult court

Efforts by criminal defense attorneys to obtain a charge dismissal or reduction of charges for defendants can be critical. For instance, a Kansas defendant may be charged with murder without playing a direct role in the killing of another person. The state also permits some juveniles accused of committing violent felonies to be passed through the legal system as adults.

A Sedgwick County judge recently decided a Wichita teen accused of killing a couple during an October home invasion could face adult murder charges. The defendant was 17 years old when he and another young man, a 20-year-old charged with capital murder, allegedly broke into the home with the intent to rob the victims' son.

Police said the juvenile stood in the living room armed with a BB gun while the older defendant shot and killed the couple, a 71-year-old woman and her 72-year-old husband, in a bedroom. The victims' son later discovered his parents' bodies. An affidavit stated the shooter stole the couple's car while the younger robber walked home -- the burned vehicle was discovered a few hours later in a different part of the county.

The juvenile, arrested a few days after the shootings, admitted he and the other man went to the victims' home with the intent to steal. Kansas laws state first-degree murder charges can apply to killings that occur during the attempt or commission of or escape from dangerous felonies, like robberies. The young man, now 18, was charged with aggravated robbery and double counts of first-degree murder.

The teen might have remained in custody until age 22, if he had been convicted through a juvenile court. The transfer to an adult court includes the possibility of much more serious consequences. A first-degree murder conviction as an adult could place the teen behind bars for life without parole eligibility for a minimum of 20 years.

Source: The Wichita Eagle, "Teen charged in killing of Wichita couple to be tried as adult," Amy Renee Leiker, April. 16, 2015

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