A Morgan County Judge has found a 12-year-old Martinsville boy guilty of reckless homicide for shooting and killing his 6-year-old brother. The boy faced a possible murder charge but the judge determined the evidence could not prove the boy intended to harm his brother.
Morgan County Prosecutors had originally sought to have the boy, who was 11 at the time of the shooting, tried as an adult. But the judge determined he would be better off in a juvenile court. Morgan County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Bob Clin said the purpose of juvenile court is to provide rehabilitation.
“No matter what the conviction was for, he needs to be rehabilitated,” Clin said. “He’s 11 years old, 12 years old. You can’t lock a person up at 11 or 12 for the rest of their life, so you need to address the problem, so whether it was murder or reckless homicide, the problem needs to be fixed and this child needs help.”
The boy’s mother, Amanda Vandergriff, and her boyfriend await trial on negligence charges. After the judge read the verdict, the family, who has not been able to visit with Nathan during the trial, gathered in the courtroom and prayed. The boy’s aunt, Karri Vandergriff said the family can now begin to grieve.
“I think it’s a good idea to get him help, we don’t know what went on that day, we all believe its an accident, he’s going to have to live with this every single day, about what did happen that day,” Vandergriff said. “So getting him help and getting him on the road to recovery to be a strong citizen is wonderful.”
The boy will remain in juvenile detention until the Indiana Department of Corrections can evaluate him. After that a judge will determine the boy’s sentence.