Posted at: 10/04/2012 7:11 PM
By: James Wilcox
How to Prosecute a Youthful Offender
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- The case against Noah Crooks is the first of its kind in the history of the State of Iowa. The 14-year-old is accused of shooting and killing his mother near Osage.
At first, prosecutors wanted him tried as an adult, but a judge ruled Iowa law makes that impossible.
"The prosecutor amended his petition, and in the amendment he said I want to treat him as an adult, and forget about any of the juvenile stuff. We resisted it, and the court ruled he can't be tried as an adult," says Noah's attorney William Kutmus.
So now, as a youthful offender, Noah will be tried *like* an adult. The courtroom will have a jury, just as if he were older.
"In that sense he'll have much the same rights as an adult would have in adult court," says Kutmus.
If found guilty, Noah would return to the juvenile system until he turns 18. But neither side is certain what happens after that.
Mitchell County Attorney Mark Walk says, "There is no case law in Iowa on youthful offender status, what happens when they turn 18. There is none."
"If the court feels he needs more treatment or whatever it is, then our position the court could retain a handle on him or jurisdiction for another five years," adds Noah's attorney.
Noah's defense team does plan to use an insanity defense. There is no plan to have the trial moved out of Mitchell County.
"I don't see any pretrial publicity that's been bias against the defendant, against Noah. I like it here," says Kutmus.
A trial date isn't set. If convicted, nobody knows what will happen with Noah until he turns 18. That's when the courts will be forced to decide what happens to someone considered a youthful offender once they become an adult.