Beyond Scared Straight -Juvenile Justice Reform: Teen accused in death of elderly couple in court

Via Scoop.itJuvenile Defendants

OKLAHOMA CITY — Should a teenager be tried as an adult for allegedly setting a fire that killed an elderly couple while they slept in their own home? That’s the question surrounding 15-year-old Tristan Owen. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and first-degree arson in the July deaths of 87-year-old Boyd Haynes and 86-year-old Doris Haynes. Owen lived right across the street. He told police he had no explanation as to how the fire occurred at the Haynes’ house, but did admit to playing with fire near there. They say time heals all wounds, but that saying does not apply to Terry Haynes, the victims’ son. “Absolutely not. As a matter of fact, mine continue to get worse,” he said. On July 13, Terry’s parents died from smoke inhalation in a fire that police say was intentionally set outside their garage door around 4 a.m. Inside their charred southwest Oklahoma City home, packed bags. The Haynes had plans to move into a retirement center just hours after their home was destroyed on the 7600 block of S. Miller. “To have that so abruptly taken from them, and quite frankly, abruptly them having been taken from me, it’s infuriating,” Terry said. Court documents state, “Tristan admitted to lighting and throwing molotov cocktails into the street, but advised they did not ignite” and “he had no explanation as to how the fire occurred at the Haynes’ home.” “If you are old enough to be up at 4 o’clock in the morning, if you’re old enough to do the things that he did the night before on your own, then you’re old enough to be held accountable for your actions,” Terry said. Oklahoma state law states a 15 year old charged with first-degree murder will be tried as an adult. But Owen’s attorney believes otherwise and provided the state with an 18-page psychologist’s evaluation of Owen at the Oklahoma County Courthouse on Monday. “You want to know if he’s ever suffered any traumatic injuries to the head, the brain or anything that might alter his perceptions of reality,” trial lawyer Garvin Isaacs said. Isaacs said that report could show hallucinations, medical history or anything else that could have Owen certified as a juvenile or youthful offender. “Young people aren’t as mature as 18 year olds and sometimes they’ve had psychiatric issues and so a judge has to consider all that,” Issacs said. A juvenile found guilty of murder is out of prison when they turn 18 years old. A youthful offender could be out of prison when they turn 18 and a half years old if they have completed a treatment plan. Terry said Owen’s age should not factor into the alleged crime. “Absolutely not. This kid is 15 years old. I can tell you myself, when I was 3 years old, I knew better than to do something like that,” Terry said. The District Attorney’s office said Oklahoma law does not allow Owen to be certified as anything other than an adult when it comes to these murder charges. Owen returns to court Jan. 27. Terry said he owes it to his mom and dad to hear every word spoken in court.

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