GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – The 12-year-old suspect in the deadly shooting at Tanglewood Middle School could be tried as an adult.
The 13th Circuit Solicitor’s Office confirmed that they’ve filed a waiver with Family Court to move the case to General Sessions Court. This means the 12-year-old accused of killing Jamari Jackson could be tried as an adult and could result in a more severe sentence if convicted.
Attorney, John Reckenbeil, says a 12-year-old being tried as an adult is extremely rare.
“The law of South Carolina actually doesn’t even talk about a 12-year-old. The law of South Carolina, and the Juvenile Justice Code, literally stops at 14,” said Reckenbeil.
According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, in 2005 a child was convicted of murders he committed at the age of 12. The DJJ couldn’t tell 7NEWS how many times that has happened in the state, because they don’t keep records on cases that have moved to adult court.
Reckenbeil says the process involves the solicitor requesting the case to move from Family Court to General Sessions Court. Before that happens, Recknbeil says there’s normally a pre-waiver evaluation.
“To determine, obviously, the competence of the child, any sort of mental deficiencies, or any sort of educational limits and background,” he said.
He added that the U.S. Supreme Court has a guide that the state can choose to follow.
“Clearly, number one is the seriousness of the fact. Then, number two is was there malicious intent? So, I think that’s very important with the evaluation, is that you have to see whether or not the child even has the ability to comprehend their actions caused the result,” said Reckenbeil.
Reckenbeil says if a 12-year-old, tried as an adult, is convicted, he thinks they would still have some protections.
“I could never see in the wildest imagination [that] the child would be held in an adult jail; that just won’t happen. What will happen is the rules of the adult court will kick in,” he said.
Reckenbeil clarified if the move to General Sessions Court is denied, the solicitor could appeal. It’s an unusual situation, but is a case-by-case basis.
Bruce Wilson, a friend of the Jackson family, said they’re still in the grieving process.
“They’re going to let the legal side do what it needs to do to seek justice in this.”
He said they’re just trying to figure out life without Jamari.
“We’re talking about a 12-year-old kid. No mother expects to bury a 12-year-old child.”
If the 12-year-old isn’t tried as an adult, the outcome won’t be made available to the public due to juvenile confidentiality.