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“Making a Murderer” teen’s violent crimes conviction overturned

Wisconsin law governing matters pertaining to juvenile crime has been called into question after a recent conviction was overturned. The situation involves a teenage boy who was tried and convicted of violent crimes as an adult. He was a 16-year-old when a girl was murdered, and was accused of having helped another person kill her.

A Wisconsin criminal defense attorney recently stated that the boy should never have been tried as an adult in the first place. He noted that much scientific and medical evidence exists that demonstrates the brain of minor is not fully formed, and therefore cannot be expected to reason or understand things as an adult. Data also suggests that the male brain is not completely matured until a young man reaches his mid 20s.

In this situation, the boy had confessed to the alleged crime. The federal judge who overturned his conviction has since said that confession was coerced out of him by police interrogators. It was also noted that the boy was a special needs student at the time.

Many youth advocates say that when children are tried as adults they are not given opportunities for counseling and receive other rehabilitative services that would be available through the juvenile justice system. Several criminal lawyers have said they understand that minors should be held accountable if they commit violent crimes in Wisconsin or anywhere else. However, they cannot be expected to have the same cognitive and reasoning abilities as adults; thus, they argue that trying them as adults is unfair.


Source:, “Lessons for WI Juvenile Justice from “Making a Murderer” Case?“, Tim Morrissey, Aug. 24, 2016

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