The attorney for the teen-ager accused of killing two students at a San Diego-area high school last month told a judge Friday that trying his client as an adult would be cruel and unusual.
CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports Charles Andrew "Andy" Williams looked small in his prison garb as his attorney urged the judge not to try the 15-year old as an adult as required by California's tough, new Proposition 21 law.
"The problem with Proposition 21 is that it does not mandate that you separate 16-year-olds from older prisoners," said the attorney, Jo Pastore.
But prosecutors countered that the March 5 killing spree at Santana High School is exactly the kind of crime that prompted Californians to enact the law last year.
"They looked at making the punishment so severe that they would be treated as criminals, not delinquents," said prosecutor Kristin Anton.
Proposition 21 is part of a 15-year nationwide trend, spurred first by urban gang violence, then by school shootings and a parade of baby-faced killers. Now all but five states have laws saying killer kids can or must be tried as adults.
Under the law, Williams could get 500 years in prison. As a juvenile, he faces 10 years.
Dr. Carol Lynn Briens, whose nephew, Bryan Zuckor was one of two students Williams is accused of killing, supports the application of Proposition 21 in this case.
"He's too young to drink, he's too young to smoke, he's too young to point a gun, but he did it. That's a fact," she said. "He trespassed the line between the adult and child."
"There's no such thing as juvenile murder," said Briens. "Juvenile murder is the same thing as adult murder."
But demonstrators outside the California courthouse where Williams' hearing took place disagreed. One chanted, "Trying children as adults is wrong and putting them in adult jails is wrong."
America's two-tiered justice system was based on the belief that children were different from adults and could be redeemed. Critics say treating kids as adults only masks a deeper problem.
In Florida, which has some of the harshest laws, there was a backlash when 14-year old Lionel Tate was sentenced to life in adult prison this year for murdering a playmate. Now, the legislature is softening the laws and even law-and-order Gov. Jeb Bush is inviting a clemency appeal.
Williams, a freshman at Santana High, surrendered after allegedly firing more than 30 shots in and around a boy's bathroom from his father's .22-caliber long-barreled revolver, Zuckor, 14, and 17-year-old Randy Gordon died. He also allegedly wounded 11 students and two adults.
Williams was described as a kid who was often picked on. Some fellow students and friends said after the shooting that he had threatened violence. Three of those students have been barred from returning to the school for fear of their own safety.
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