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Judge Considers Motion To Try Group Home Murder Defendants As Juveniles

CARRICK (KDKA) - A judge today raised questions about whether the choice between either juvenile court or adult court should be the only choice in certain criminal cases involving teenagers.

He raised the question during a hearing about a beating at the Circle C Youth Home in Carrick last year. Nicholas Grant, 16, eventually died due to lack of oxygen to his brain four days after being beaten by two other teenagers who were residents of the home.

Then-16-year-old Malik Crosby and then-15-year-old Yusuf Shepard are charged as adults in Grant's death.

At a hearing to determine whether Crosby should be tried as a juvenile there was conflicting testimony about whether Crosby can be adequately treated for a list of mental health issues in the juvenile court system, which would only have jurisdiction till he's 21. He's 17 now.

Defense Psychologist Dr. Alice Applegate testified Crosby is amenable to treatment in the juvenile system and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and although he was chronologically age 16 when it happened his mental age is six to eight years old.

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But Prosecution Psychiatrist Dr. Bruce Wright says there's not enough time to fix all of Crosby's problems by the time he's 21, that he does not suffer from PTSD, but rather suffers from conduct and drug disorders.

Todd Hollis is an attorney representing the victim's family.

"It's a very traumatic and severe loss that the family has suffered," Hollis said, "and I realize that the young man has very significant problems but the reality is that his mother will have an opportunity to see him again at some point and the Grant family will not."

Allegheny County President Judge Jeffrey Manning said he wonders whether the legislature should one day look at trying a teenager for certain crimes under the juvenile system and trying the same teenager for other crimes under the adult system to manage long term oversight beyond age 21.

"I think that's very astute of Judge Manning," said Hollis. "I certainly believe that there are probably some situations that will call for it. Unfortunately we're not there yet," Hollis said.

Judge Manning took today's evidence under advisement and will rule later on whether Crosby should be tried as an adult and has yet to have a hearing on whether Shepard should be tried as an adult.

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