GRETNA, La. - A 13-year-old Terrytown, La. boy who admitted
killing his 5-year-old half-sister while practicing wrestling moves was
sentenced Tuesday to three years in a secure juvenile facility with credit for
The New Orleans Advocate reports the teenager's
defense team had argued he be offered rehabilitation services in the community.
But Judge Andrea Janzen told the teenager's attorney that he had given her no evidence to explain how or why the child - described as jovial and outgoing by church members - was so disrespectful and angry at home.
"I just don't have any information to support
that kind of behavior and that is very troubling to me," she said of the
boy, who glowered and balled his fists at his stepfather when attorneys
approached the bench.
The boy's stepfather, who is also the father of
the 5-year-old victim, had just described how the defendant refused to let him in the door
and acted disrespectfully to his mother.
The boy will get credit for the time he has served
since July and Janzen recommended he be sent to the Bridge City Center for
Youth so he could get support from his family and members of his church.
Several church members offered to help, including
an elderly woman who volunteered to take the boy into her home because he could
not go back to his home. The boy's stepfather has said he will not allow the teenager
Janzen ordered parish agencies to put together a
treatment plan for the teenager, including anger, grief and victim awareness
therapy. She told him if he stays out of trouble and responds to his therapy,
she can shorten his time in the secure facility and release him to community
Janzen expressed sympathy for the family and
praised the church members who stepped forward, but said she couldn't put the
boy back in a home setting right away. "It pains me to put a 13-year-old
into a secure facility," she said. "It pains me."
In a hand-written admission last month, the
teenager said he used moves named for wrestlers he saw on TV when he slammed
his body or elbow into the little girl's torso multiple times, stopping only
when their mother called to check on him and his sister.
After about 30 minutes, the 13-year-old said the
5-year-old was on the bathroom floor complaining that her stomach was hurting.
A short time later, he said he noticed the girl was not breathing, at which
time he called 911.
While probation officers testified the teenager
had shown no remorse or grief, Janzen said she believed the boy, who was left
by his mother in Haiti in 2006 only to be taken from his father and reunited
with his mother here in 2010, does feel remorse.
"This child has had tremendous separation
issues and I have no doubt that has caused him grief and trauma," she said.
Janzen said there will need to be family
counseling, and that the child's mother and stepfather should undergo couples
Outside the courthouse, the defendant's mother
said she agreed with the judge's ruling, even though she had advocated for him
to be placed in the community. She said she thinks of her daughter constantly,
but will do everything she can for her son, whom she said she forgives.
"A mother must live for her kids," she said.