(WMC) - One day after charges against a 13-year-old were upgraded to second-degree murder, prosecutors announced in juvenile court they have filed a notice of their intent to seek transfer of the case to adult court.
"The parents are grieving," defense attorney Rob Gowen said after the court proceedings had ended. "They've lost their daughter. And now they're looking at losing a son to the court system."
Gowen represents the 13-year-old, whom WMC Action News 5 has chosen not to identify unless or until his case gets transferred to adult court. Currently the teen is locked up at juvenile court without bond.
On April 21, 2014, Memphis police were called to 4092 Orleans Road and found a 10-year-old girl with a severe wound to the head, a screwdriver laying in a large puddle of blood nearby. Paramedics rushed to girl to the hospital in extremely critical condition.
Police say she had been shot once in the face. On April 24, 2014, prosecutors say she died as a result of the gunshot wound. She had been identified as Denii Compton.
According to an amended affidavit of complaint, the 13-year-old had a loaded gun in his hand. Investigators say he told them he pulled the trigger after his little sister "dared him" to shoot her in the face. But police say the 13-year-old has a working knowledge of firearms and knew shooting her in the face would seriously hurt her. Police also say the 13-year-old hid the gun in the backyard after the shooting and placed a screwdriver in a large puddle of blood nearby in an attempt to cover up what happened.
Defense attorneys say they just learned the state had filed a notice of intent to seek transfer just before it was announced in court but had been expecting it since learning the charges against the 13-year-old had been upgraded.
"We kind of knew this was coming. It's unfortunate," Gowen said. "We think it's the wrong decision and we're gonna fight back."
Defense attorneys say the 13-year-old was able to leave juvenile court lock-up to visit his sister in the hospital before she died. They say he kissed her on the forehead and told her he loved her. He did not attend the funeral services over the weekend.
Gowen says the teen's initial psychological evaluations show the need for more testing. They question his competency.
"Because he's a child, and he thinks like a child and acts like a child," Gowen said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, after court was over, the Shelby County District Attorney General's office said prosecutors do not want to put the 13-year-old on trial in adult court, will not ask a judge to do so, and plan to keep the case in juvenile court.
"The DA's office is not seeking transfer to Criminal Court," office spokesman Vince Higgins told WMC Action News 5. "We filed the motion as a way to guarantee that (the teen's) charges appeared on the major crimes docket."
The DA's office says filing the notice of intent to seek transfer is a procedural issue that allowed prosecutors to alert the court to the seriousness of the case.
The teen's mother and father were by his side for his latest appearance in juvenile court. They left the building through an alternate door in order to avoid the awaiting media. However, a cousin and the family's pastor from Riverview Christian Church, Gregory Liggins, told WMC Action News 5's Nick Kenney that the family is still grieving, struggling through a difficult situation.
"Everybody's still trying to cope with what's going on. And I ask that you continue to pray for the family."
The 13-year-old is due back in juvenile court on May 21 at 9:30 a.m. for a status conference.
Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.
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