SEATTLE - A 14-year-old boy is charged with premeditated first-degree murder after a 17-year-old boy was shot and killed earlier this month at Seattle's Ingraham High School.
Just before 10 a.m. on Nov. 8, Seattle Police responded to Ingraham High School on N. 135th Street for reports of a shooting. When officers arrived, they immediately entered the school and found a student with a gunshot wound.
That student was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries, but later died.
A suspect tried to escape on a King County Metro bus but was taken into custody shortly after the shooting.
On Nov. 14, the 14-year-old suspect was charged with Murder in the First Degree (premeditated), Assault in the First Degree (firearm, deadly weapon, force), and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree (Under 18).
According to charging documents, the suspect, victim and several other students were involved in a physical fight in the bathroom at the school. Investigators said the reason for the fight was purportedly because the victim and his friends had learned that the suspect brought a gun to school and they wanted it. During the fight in the bathroom, the suspect's cell phone may have been taken.
While leaving the bathroom, the victim was seen laughing at the opposing group as they left the area, which appeared to agitate the suspect, according to charging documents.
About ten minutes later, the suspect asked to leave class to return to the bathroom, but the teacher denied the request. After class, witnesses told police that they saw the suspect and victim interact in the hallway at 9:55 a.m. The witness said they heard the victim say to the suspect "you're not gonna bust it," implying shooting a gun. The witness said he saw the suspect was past the victim before pulling a gun out of his backpack and shooting the victim in the back multiple times.
Detectives said the witness account is corroborated by what was captured on school video.
After the shooting, documents say the suspect and a 15-year-old ran from the school and entered a woman's backyard nearby. They told her that there was a shooting at the school and she offered to let them inside her home. They appeared to be trying to get a ride from someone, but eventually left the home after about 30 minutes and headed toward Aurora Ave. where they were arrested by Seattle Police a short time later.
According to the King County Prosecutors Office, when 16- or 17-year-olds are charged with first-degree murder in the state of Washington, their cases are automatically filed in adult court. However, for 14- and 15-year-olds the cases are initially filed into juvenile court and the prosecutor can file a motion requesting a transfer to adult court:
"This motion must be filed at the time charges are filed and before any hearing is held (such as an arraignment, where an initial plea is entered). This process is governed by state law (RCW 13.40.110). A judge’s decision to move a case from Juvenile Court to adult court is based on the eight Kent Factors."
Prosecutors on Nov. 14 said their office did file a motion to transfer the 14-year-old's charges to Superior Court, but it will be up to a judge to determine if the case should be moved following a hearing:
"If the case were to remain in Juvenile Court, a 14-year-old convicted of murder could remain in Juvenile Rehabilitation custody until his 21st birthday -- even in a premediated First Degree Murder case. That is state law.
"In cases where a judge declines Juvenile Court jurisdiction in favor of adult court, that teen is not held in prison with adult populations. If pre-trial detention is ordered, the teen would remain housed at the Child and Family Justice Center. In cases where a respondent is sentenced in adult court for a murder committed at age 14, a judge would have full discretion to impose any sentence that the judge deemed to be appropriate; including a sentence of credit for time served. The sentencing judge would not be bound by the standard ranges set by state lawmakers for adults sentenced for a similar offense.
In any event, any confinement ordered at sentencing following a conviction would be served at Juvenile Rehabilitation until the teen is 25 years old, if the judge’s sentence extended to that age."
The 15-year-old was charged with Unlawful Possession of a Firearm in the Second Degree (Under 18) and Felony Rendering Criminal Assistance in the First-Degree.
The next hearing for both suspects is Nov. 15 at the Child and Family Justice Center in Seattle.