October 22, 2019

"Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is. People make mistakes, and that’s what this is. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy, but it’s still not something to throw his life away over."

Said the mother of a 9-year-old boy who is charged with 5 counts of first-degree murder. She's quoted in "A 9-year-old is facing five counts of murder. He didn’t even know what ‘alleged’ meant" (WaPo).

The boy's aunt, whose 2-year-old daughter was one of the persons who died in the fire, said: "I think he should go somewhere until he’s legal age to go to juvie. Then I think he should go to juvie. And then from juvie to prison. Because at the end of the day, whether he meant to or not, he knew what fire did."

61 comments:

Char Char Binks said...

It seems like a case of non compos mentis.

Dave Begley said...

Seven is the age of reason. The fact that he has a limited vocabulary means nothing.

Dave Begley said...

But on the other hand, CNN treated us to a trans person (girl who thought she was a boy) claiming victim status and that kid was all of 9 years old.

If you can switch genders at 9 you can surely go to jail for murder.

Might as well let 9 year olds vote too.

Bob Boyd said...

Everyone is looking at him like he’s some kind of monster, but that’s not who he is.

At first I thought it was going to another post about Mok Zukabug.

Nonapod said...

Alwood, the boy’s mother, told CBS News this month that her son had recently been diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

So we have a 9 year old who is mentally unstable who set a fire and is being charged with murder. Why is it murder? There's something missing here.

Char Char Binks said...

"The fact that he has a limited vocabulary means nothing."

The fact that he's been diagnosed with schizophrenia means something.

gspencer said...

Only 5 first degree charges? Of course he's not a monster.

Now if it had been 6 first degree charges, then I suppose you might begin to consider him a monster. But with only 5, com'n, man, lets be real.

Bob Boyd said...

He's got a helluva carbon footprint already for a nine year old.

Bob Boyd said...

Maybe not a monster, but I'm betting there will be other kids dressing up like him for Halloween.

Bay Area Guy said...

Great parenting......

iowan2 said...

Sanctity of Human life, used to be a universal core value.

May want to think about that.

Situational ethics is a real thing, unfortunately, for those five victims.

Michael K said...

Schizophrenia at age 9 is extremely rare.

This study of age at onset has age 12 as the youngest.

Phidippus said...

Sometimes psychopaths start early.

They're often not recognized until it's too late.

tim maguire said...

Eighteen is the age of majority, where you have the rights and responsibilities of adulthood. Unless society’s emotional reaction dictates otherwise. Then all bets are off.

gahrie said...

Sentence should be life in a mental hospital.

cubanbob said...

This is one of there are no good options situations. He's a mentally ill kid who killed five people. As a juvenile he can't spend decades in prison. Yet once he is out he is a danger to society. And while incarcerated it's doubtful he will get the medical attention to attempt to normalize him. And if he were to get the treatment and becomes normalized once he is out nothing can keep him normal. Can't execute him. Can't imprison him for life.

Drago said...

gspencer: "Now if it had been 6 first degree charges, then I suppose you might begin to consider him a monster. But with only 5, com'n, man, lets be real."

Nicely "Biden-ly" played.

Quaestor said...

The fat's in the fire for sure.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

his future wife

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/facebook/000/000/043/disaster-girl.jpg

Rohan said...

I wonder what info hasn't been released to the public. Charging a 9-year-old with first-degree murder seems extremely harsh. The prosecutor must know that this would result in a lot of criticism.

My guess is that this is not the first time this kid has killed someone through arson. Like maybe the first time the prosecutors sided with the "he's only 8 or 9" arguments, and wrote it off as a tragic accident. But if the child does it again, they really have no choice but to go super-harsh, regardless of age, to ensure that the child ends up in some sort of facility.

rcocean said...

9 y/o first degree murder? Crazy.

Fernandistein said...

her son had recently been diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

The younger two children needed extra attention: Daemeon had autism, and Ariel was deaf in one ear.

Two words: eugenics.

No wait, these two words: genetic load.

gilbar said...

couldn't we just retro-actively Abort him?
I mean, at the 30th trimester; isn't the fetus just a bunch of inanimate cells?

Quaestor said...

I think he should go somewhere until he’s legal age to go to juvie. Then I think he should go to juvie. And then from juvie to prison.

Juvie, juvie, juvie.

Marc said...

A terrible tragedy of a sort that only the Cross can make any kind of sense of; terrible.

But then I was seduced into reading about the 'ghost baby' at WaPo. People are idiots.



wild chicken said...

Recently diagnosed, eh? And what was the "treatment"?

Lemme guess: some kind of psychoactive drugs - ?

Fernandistein said...

In the early 1990s, juvenile murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrest rates nationwide hit a high of nearly 13 per 100,000 youths, according to the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs. In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the arrest rate was 2.7 per 100,000.

That is completely driven by blacks. No other race, er, demographic, showed that trend, or had murder rates nearly as high as blacks did.

wild chicken said...

Also, sounds a little crowded in that house, including a "fiance" LOL. Oh the shit we women tell ourselves.

Kids see right through it.

cyrus83 said...

If he managed to kill 5 people at age 7 with intent, then yeah, his life should be over, much like the 5 other people whose lives ended. At the very least, he needs to be confined to a mental hospital permanently as he is a clear danger to others, even if not yet an adult.

Greg the class traitor said...

Bay Area Guy said...
Great parenting......

Yeah. My first thought, reading that, was the mother needs to go to jail for the murders

Virgil Hilts said...

Killing 5 innocent people through a deliberate malicious act means you've lost your right to remain on the bus. If he were a decent person/child, he would have committed suicide by now and spared us having to have this discussion.

Anne said...

As the mother of a child who has done something almost as terrible, I have exhausted myself looking for reasons. The best explanation for me was found in an article in The Atlantic, some time ago—I wish I could remember the name. It talked about children who are born sociopathic—manifesting characteristics very, very early. Psychiatry has been reluctant to diagnose these children—because it seems a diagnosis of despair; I.e., nothing to be done. But now, they are studying early interventions to mitigate, if not completely halt, these children’s destructive behavior. I wish that the medical professionals to whom I took my child had been willing to make a harsh judgement. I wish that I had acted on my vague worries. Woulda coulda shoulda.

I suspect this boy showed signs of anti-social behavior from an early age. Fire-setting is classic, but there are others. I suspect the diagnosis of schizophrenia was an alternative to flatly labelling the boy a sociopath. Perhaps everyone would have been better off with a more marked index of suspicion for sociopathic tendencies.

There are no good answers. These children are marked from birth. Their brains are probably miswired in a profound way. I feel nothing but grief for everyone, all around.

Rob said...

Note the use of the passive voice: "Alwood, the boy’s mother, told CBS News this month that her son had recently been diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder." Diagnosed by whom, a psychiatrist retained by the defense attorney? They've got this kid suffering from everything but cooties.

Yancey Ward said...

There is a lot missing in this story. I am willing to guess, though, that the fire was started with an accelerant, and given the time at which it was set, it was done with malice. Part of me suspects the boy isn't the culprit, but the aunt's public statement argues that he indeed was the one who set it.

Nine years old is definitely old enough to know this act is deeply wrong. If he set this fire, it is likely you are dealing with sociopath.

Roughcoat said...

My elementary school in the 1950s had a student body composed of white kids many of them from lower middle class and poverty-line families, including numbers of children of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Ireland (I was one of the lower middle-class kids). There was a disproportionate number of tough kids and really bad kids. I mean, evil bad. Off the top of my head I can name at least ten kids who were either full-blown violent psychopaths or who behaved as such. I am not exaggerating. It was like growing up in Hell's Kitchens with the Westies. There were street gangs composed of nine-year-olds who conducted swarming robbery sprees of drug stores and beat up and bullied unaffiliated kids on the school playground. There were two "suspicious deaths" that I know of and which should almost certainly have been categorized as murder. There was a lot of dangerous double-dare risk-taking behavior associated with psychopathy and border-line personality disorders, one of which involved walking on the El tracks playing chicken with an oncoming train (one of the participants in that game was struck and killed, gruesomely, by the train). The bad kids were really dangerous and our parents threatened us for behaving like them by saying if we did something bad we would be sent to the dread "Audy Home" or "St. Charles," both notorious "reform schools" (as they were then known). Anyone who tells me that children can't be psychopaths should have visited my neighborhood in the 1950s.

Roughcoat said...

Btw, many of the bad boys I mentioned in my post above grew up to become criminals or drug addicts who lived foreshortened lives. None that I know of turned out well.

PJ57 said...

Isn't there some way we can hold Trump responsible for this?

Megthered said...

A severely mentally ill 9 y/o is rare but it does happen. There are psychopaths at every age but we refuse to see children that way. There isn't any good outcome for the child. Keeping him away from the public is the best treatment for the general public but he can never be "cured"

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"The fact that he's been diagnosed with schizophrenia means something"

"Great parenting......"

These. Get real. He needs help, not incarceration. Absurdly Victorian to charge a 9 year-old with first-degree murder.

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

"Isn't there some way we can hold Trump responsible for this?"

WTF? They haven't already?

Fernandistein said...

Lemme guess: some kind of psychoactive drugs - ?

Yikes. Good point.

I wonder if the kid can play "Au Clair de la Lune" real fast on the piano, as young Bad Seeds are wont to do.

James K said...

We don’t know if he’s mentally ill. But regardless, of the kid is not fully responsible, then the parents are. A 9-year-old needs supervision, especially if he’s shown signs of sociopathic behavior. Where were they when he set the fire? How could he have done that if he’d been properly supervised.

Richard Dolan said...

Remarkable thread, this one. Not in a good way.

Fernandistein said...

an article in The Atlantic

"When Your Child Is a Psychopath"?

Psychopathy in children is generally called "conduct disorder" or "callous unemotional" or "lttle bastard".

rcocean said...

Yeah, kids like this almsot never end up having normal lives. They usually end up dead at an early age or in prison. If we lived in an older, poorer society with no margin for error, the kid would've been killed for the benefit of everyone.

But we live in 2019 YSA, and we need to give a nine-year old a chance. Yelling "lock 'em and up an throw away the key" is bizarre when he's a 3rd grader. He might be one of the few who will grow up right. Give him a break but watch him closely.

rhhardin said...

Mass murderer's brains aren't fully formed until they're 26.

Paul said...

Mass murder in not a 'mistake'. Neither is arson.

Seeing Red said...

The judge has issued a gag order at the request of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services barring anyone involved in the proceedings, including the boy’s relatives, from publicly discussing the case.

What did DCFS know and when did they know it?

Big Mike said...

Illinois doesn’t have facilities for insane criminals? Find someplace that does but keep this child out of society for the rest of his life. While you’re at it, sterilize the mother, if she can’t raise children better than that.

The Post article is behind a paywall, but there are plenty of other online articles describing the crime. The kid has the face of an angel, but one has to look past the face and see his soul.

wildswan said...

"Fernandistein said...
her son had recently been diagnosed with a form of schizophrenia, ADHD and bipolar disorder.

The younger two children needed extra attention: Daemeon had autism, and Ariel was deaf in one ear.

Two words: eugenics"


Eugenics? We don't have enough information so I'll just point out that this boy had recently been put on drugs - which ones we don't know.

And his diagnosis of three separate forms of mental illness sounds strange - but as if something was terribly wrong. Yet I think rowdy little boys get diagnosed as having a disease these days when, mostly, the problem is they just aren't girls. They have to be trained out of hitting, pushing and shoving, starting young, but these days they get a diagnosis, not training. They should be put with other little rowdies and play rough games and learn how to behave around others by getting knocked down themselves by people their own age and size. Instead adults talk to them. Then pills. Oh well, maybe I'm just old school.

Bilwick said...

Is this a case for YouTube's "Dindu Nuffin" collection?

Joanne Jacobs said...

The story says the only punishment available under state law for a child under 10 is probation, even if he's convicted of murder. The boy is now a ward of the state. I can't imagine where he's living. There's very little out there for young children who are dangerous.

Year ago, I observed Juvenile Court in Baltimore. The judge was very worried about placement for a teen who'd once started a (non-injury) fire. Many facilities won't take a kid who's a firebug.

I don't think a 9-year-old fully understands the consequences of his actions, even without the alleged mental illness. He knows fire burns. Did he anticipate the fire would kill his family members? I doubt it. Will he grow up to be a normal person? I doubt that too.

MB said...

This setup is quite clear.
The aunt is revealed as an uncouth, low-class person, through her use of the word "juvie". Besides, she is made to look vindictive, and that's a bad look. Why couldn't she raise above it all, like the mother did?
The mother speaks in a no-nonsense manner and is shown to have a refined, but down-to-earth sensibility. It's impossible not to feel sympathy for her and her son's plight. Who never makes mistakes, right?
The mother is probably well-connected and used to having her way. The psychiatrists she hired gave the diagnosis that she wanted. She was also able to make her case in the Washington Post, one designed to appeal to "liberal" sensibilities concerning justice and fairness. She has probably retained the right sort of lawyers, too.
I foresee a brilliant win in court, granted by a "liberal" judge, and a brilliant future for the talented offspring of such a brilliant family.

Phidippus said...

"Illinois doesn’t have facilities for insane criminals?"

Chicago?

ken in tx said...

I had a 6th grade student that I was pretty sure was a psychopath. Kicking, hitting, spitting, tripping, stealing, lying, cheating--smart enough that he didn't need to but he did it anyway--, disrespectful and disobedient, he did it all. He had an IEP (individual education plan) for having oppositional defiant disorder. His father blamed me and the school for his behavior for not following his IEP. However, students who had been with him in elementary school said that he had always been that way. I would have been afraid to spend the night in the same house with him. I told his father that I was going to be his teacher for only a few months but he was going to be his father for the rest of his life, and he was going to regret excusing and enabling his bad behavior.

Ann Althouse said...

“ The mother is probably well-connected and used to having her way.”

She narrowly escaped from a mobile home that had 5 people in it in addition to her and her son. That doesn’t sound well connected to me.

stevew said...

He is a monster. Growing up I knew two kids like that, purposely did things to hurt people and animals. No reason other than to inflict pain or suffering, not because they had been wronged in some obvious way. Though they never killed anyone. I feel sympathy for his mother.

bagoh20 said...

Makes as much sense as charging the trailer with a murder/suicide.

bagoh20 said...

" Growing up I knew two kids like that, purposely did things to hurt people and animals."

I did too, but the idea that such kids always become bad people or even murderers is not predictive enough to do much about. Nearly all the ones I knew grew up to be normal decent people,... nearly all. Some died young, which is another outcome more common among them, but not reliably predictable. Much of what we do as youngsters is experimental, and temporary, and some kids are a lot more experimental than others. Some never try anything, let alone anything inappropriate, but they all grow up, and most grow better.

stevew said...

You seem to know more about this than i do Bagoh, my knowledge is limited to the two i mentioned. Both have spent their lives in and out of jail.

gilbar said...

Did the waPoo article mention this part?
He will also avoid incarceration if convicted. He could, however, face probation, therapy and counseling, the report said.