Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mother Pleads For Son Accused In Beating Death

12-Year-Old Boy Offered Plea Deal

POSTED: 8:55 pm EST February 18, 2008
UPDATED: 9:24 pm EST February 18, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The mother of a 12-year-old boy accused of beating his 17-month-old cousin to death with a baseball bat stood up in court Monday and said she wasn't happy with a plea deal being presented to her son.

Guerla Joseph told a judge that she wanted to be heard, and told the court her son was innocent and should not be charged.

On Friday, prosecutors announced they would charge the boy with second-degree murder in the juvenile court system, which would spare him the possibility of spending life in prison.

"They come into my home and take my son away," said Joseph.

Lauderhill police detectives said the boy, who was baby-sitting Shaloh Joseph at the time, confessed to beating her at the family's Lauderhill home Jan. 4 because she was crying while he was trying to watch television.

The boy would get three years in a juvenile detention center and probation if he agrees to the plea deal. In order for the 12-year-old to enter a guilty plea, he must first be found competent.

Lawyers for both sides told Judge Charles Kaplan that two psychiatrists are evaluating the boy.

Kaplan addressed the boy's mother, reminding her that the plea deal will keep the juvenile out of the adult jail system.

"He's faced with the choice to stay in juvenile court and face second-degree murder or get indicted as an adult. In the adult system, the law in Florida, would only allow for life in prison if he was found guilty," said Kaplan.

In two weeks, the psychiatrists will release their findings and tell the judge if the boy is competent to decide to accept the deal.

Local 10 asked the prosecutor and defense attorney how much impact the mother's comments have on the case, and if she can stop the deal from going through.

Local 10 was told that she cannot stop the deal, but the court will take into consideration her feelings on the matter.

Prosecutors also told the judge that the 12-year-old boy has been in the system before. They would not say what the offense was, but they said that he did not get the help he needed at the time.

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