Luciano: In court, a little boy hears enormous charges

By Phil Luciano
of the Journal Star
Posted Oct 21, 2019 at 1:13 PM

EUREKA — Much like other school kids, the 9-year-old got a lesson Monday.

But in this surreal scenario, there was no teacher in a classroom, but a judge in a courtroom. There, in Woodford County Circuit Court, the boy was read a juvenile indictment — slowly, so as he could grasp the meaning and severity of the charges

It’s not uncommon for youths to undergo juvenile-court proceedings. But in this case, the juxtaposition was stark, as the 9-year-old — his head barely peeking above the back of his chair at the defense table — listened to the enormity of the charges.

First-degree murder. First-degree murder. First-degree murder. First-degree murder. First-degree murder. Aggravated arson. Arson. Arson.

All the while, the judge spoke patiently and painstakingly about the counts (including the names of each victim), legal terms (“alleged,” “arson,” “accused,” “conviction”) and possible dispositions (probation, counseling, mental-health evaluation, restitution).

“I don’t want to talk above your head,” the judge said with a reassuring smile. ” … It’s very important you understand.”

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