Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun

This is a discussion on Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun within the In the News: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly forums, part of the The Back Porch category; Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun Friday, April 11, 2008 PITTSBURGH — A 14-year-old girl acknowledged killing her father with a 12-gauge ...

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Thread: Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun

    Girl, 14, Gets Probation for Killing Father With Shotgun
    Friday, April 11, 2008


    PITTSBURGH — A 14-year-old girl acknowledged killing her father with a 12-gauge shotgun blast to the face to end years of sexual abuse and could be on juvenile probation until she turns 21, her attorney said Thursday.

    Defense attorney Patrick Nightingale said the girl accepted an offer from the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office to be adjudicated delinquent, the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea. She was placed on probation on a charge of involuntary manslaughter, the least serious grade of homicide in Pennsylvania, the attorney said.

    "I think the DA's office has been consistently very enlightened in its approach because they know my client suffered significant trauma at the hands of her father," Nightingale said. "And I'm very happy on behalf of my client that we won't have to live through that trauma again in a trial setting."

    The girl was 13 when she shot Matthew Booth Sr., 34, on July 30 in the squalid home they shared in Elizabeth Township, a rural suburb about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Nightingale and the girl told authorities Booth had abused her since she was about 7.

    The girl at first told police two masked men shot her father while ransacking their house, but soon after confessed to shooting him.

    Allegheny County prosecutors initially charged her as an adult with criminal homicide, but agreed to move the case to juvenile court in August after District Attorney Stephen Zappala Jr. toured the home and described the living conditions as "incredible."

    An Allegheny County Health Department report showed the home had major health code violations, including no furnace or bathroom sink, holes in walls, a leaky ceiling, and flea infestation from neglected pets, including dogs, cats and rabbits. Much of the furniture was broken and police said the home smelled of animal waste.

    Zappala spokesman Mike Manko said the office cannot comment on the resolution of the case because of the girl's age and nature of the proceeding.

    The girl was last known to be living in a residential treatment facility, though her once-estranged mother had been trying to get custody of her. Nightingale said he cannot say where the girl is living, but that "reunification (with her mother) is one of the goals of court supervision."

    The girl will be supervised by the county's juvenile probation department, which can have jurisdiction over her until she's 21.

    Prosecutors have also offered to expunge the girl's juvenile court record if she does well on supervision, Nightingale said.

    Nightingale said the relatively lenient resolution was appropriate given the "totality of the circumstances."

    "Yes, it's a very serious offense, but the District Attorney's Office acknowledges this little girl has suffered tremendously," Nightingale said.
    If what she states is true, I say good for her. Anybody that would do that to their own child, would definitely do it to mine or anybody elses.
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    VIP Member Array matiki's Avatar
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    Sounds like this could be one of those rare cases of prosecutorial discretion being exercised judiciously. It's too bad she has been put through all this, I hope she comes out of this O-K.

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    I hope she gets consuling while on probation, she has been through to much at 14 to try to cope with it own her on.
    “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices quicker than you can convince one man by logic.”

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    VIP Member Array Janq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by matiki View Post
    Sounds like this could be one of those rare cases of prosecutorial discretion being exercised judiciously. It's too bad she has been put through all this, I hope she comes out of this O-K.
    Agreed.

    This girl though she will never be right.
    Functional in society maybe, wind up working as a stripper possibly, but OK/right...nope.

    He father and "estranged" mother stole that chance from her at conception.

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    Distinguished Member Array morintp's Avatar
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    I don't think she should have even gotten probation. She should be given a medal.

    This poor child has been through more than most people could bear, and will bear the scars for the rest of her life.

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    Member Array Stirling XD's Avatar
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    From the details I saw, I don't think I would have charged her at all. I'm guessing the fact that she tried to cover it up at first might have swayed the DA to charge her with something. By giving her probation she will at least stay on someone's radar as opposed to just turning her loose and forgetting about her. This poor girl needs counseling and a stable home. I also like the fact that the prosecutor has offered to expunge her record if she does well. I would hate for this to follow her around the rest of her life.

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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Not a lawyer here, but for a shooting to be truly self-defense it has to be in the face of an immediate threat. The fact that the father was a scumbag and Needed Killing explains the minimal charge, but unless there is some evidence that he was an imminent threat to her the moment she shot him, it is not really self-defense. By the letter of the law, the prosecutor needs to charge her with something. He also has to take into account the fact that she shot him dead instead of running down to the local police station and turning him in.

    It's a sucky situation all around. As Janq said, the girl is probably screwed up for life, and it is about as close to a desirable killing as there can be, but that doesn't automatically make it self-defense in the eyes of the law.
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    VIP Member Array grady's Avatar
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    I don't support any child molester for one millisecond, but she could have turned him in to the police. If she attends school, she could have told a teacher and she would have been removed from the home immediately. He would have gotten his due in prison. He probably would have suffered more from Bubba, and over a longer period of time, than he suffered in his death. I think years of prison rape would have been justice, assuming he was guilty.

    That brings up another point: is there any proof he was sexually abusing her? All we have is her word. How do we know this teenager just didn't like her dad's rules, or wanted to go live with her mom? Ever heard of rebellious, out-of-control teenagers who don't like parent's discipline? Ever heard of teenagers who lie? This teenager admitted to lying to the police on her first account of her dad's death. Is she lying about anything else? We read of teenage shooters and gangbangers all the time, some younger than her. How do we know she is telling the truth (her second version of events)?

    Are there ever false accusations of sexual abuse? I know of a man who spent 7 years in prison for rape based on a false accusation. It turns out his girlfriend got pregnant and didn't want her parents to know she'd been having consensual sex (this was before DNA testing). Many men who were falsely imprisoned on rape charges have now been freed thanks to DNA testing.

    Around St. Louis, if a man is accused of sexual abuse, his photograph hits the news immediately with the story. Part of me sees the point of that: if he's guilty, everyone needs warned about him, including those who might have contact with him. But if he's innocent, his life can be shattered by the accusation and publicity alone. It only takes one accusation to hit the news. The media doesn't wait until after a conviction to go public.

    I AM NOT supporting any child molester, and I'm not claiming the young girl is lying about the sexual abuse. She may well be a victim. And if her account is true, I agree she's affected for her entire life and may never totally recover. But her dad's guilt or innocence should have been determined in a court of law.

    This is another point: is it okay to kill someone if they've wronged me enough, but yet I'm not in danger at the moment? If society says it's okay to kill someone because they have treated others horribly, then there's a lot of killin' that needs done.

    I don't think we should be allowed to take the law into our own hands and execute someone because they have treated us horribly.

    Or should we?

    Where do we draw the line? Isn't that what the courts are for? Or is it open season on those who offend, if one thinks the grievance is serious enough?

    For those who may accuse me of attacking the victim, I'm not saying she's lying about the sexual abuse. I'm saying it should have been looked into by the authorites to determine his guilt or innocence, rather than her shooting her dad in the face with a shotgun.

    If killing others for grievances is okay, I want to know about it.

    Just to be clear in case anyone missed it, I AM NOT supporting any child molester in any way. But I have seen enough false accusations in my lifetime to realize they exist, and they can be devastating to the innocent people who are falsely accused.

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    Ex Member Array TacticalCompact's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kazzaerexys View Post
    Not a lawyer here, but for a shooting to be truly self-defense it has to be in the face of an immediate threat. The fact that the father was a scumbag and Needed Killing explains the minimal charge, but unless there is some evidence that he was an imminent threat to her the moment she shot him, it is not really self-defense. By the letter of the law, the prosecutor needs to charge her with something. He also has to take into account the fact that she shot him dead instead of running down to the local police station and turning him in.
    Quote Originally Posted by grady View Post
    I don't support any child molester for one millisecond, but she could have turned him in to the police. If she attends school, she could have told a teacher and she would have been removed from the home immediately.
    I think you're forgetting that this is a child that has been seriously abused since she was at least 7. You just can't expect a child of that young age, who has been physically, mentally, and emotionally abused for so long to be capable of any adult like thought. You can't hold someone who is enduring this type of trauma (?daily?) to the same high-standards of self-defense and imminent danger as you or I.

    We, as adults, are capable of, and expected to have reasonable thought processes that should prevent us from shooting someone in the face unless they present an immediate threat. Of course, we don't know that this wasn't the case in her situation. However, you can't expect a kid in her position to know that she will be okay if she runs to the teacher and tells on daddy. Most likely, she lives in fear and thinks that if she were to tell, he'd hurt her real bad.

    She probably even loved him, which makes ratting him out that much harder. However, in the heat of the moment, it was much easier for her to blast him than to rat him out when she's away from him, calm and collected, etc...

    You really can't have any idea what life was like for this young girl, or any young human in a situation like hers. It's her father's own fault, plain and simple. She just couldn't take it any more and followed her instict for survival. I feel great sorrow for children like this one. The probation is more for her own protection that it is a punishment. This girl needs to start life all over again, and someone needs to be there in order to ensure she gets a good start.

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    VIP Member Array deadeye72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grady View Post

    That brings up another point: is there any proof he was sexually abusing her? All we have is her word. How do we know this teenager just didn't like her dad's rules, or wanted to go live with her mom? Ever heard of rebellious, out-of-control teenagers who don't like parent's discipline? Ever heard of teenagers who lie? This teenager admitted to lying to the police on her first account of her dad's death. Is she lying about anything else? We read of teenage shooters and gangbangers all the time, some younger than her. How do we know she is telling the truth (her second version of events)?
    That is the exact reason I put in my original post,
    If what she states is true, I say good for her.
    If she is not telling the truth, then I hope they find out and punish her to the fullest extent of the law.
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    Member Array whyipackmy45's Avatar
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    You should never lie about anything when making a statement to police.

    If you lie about one thing, then the jurors will assume you lied about everything.

    She's just a kid though. She doesn't know any better.

    They should check her for signs of physical abuse. She could've just made the abuse up to get out of trouble.
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    VIP Member Array Supertac45's Avatar
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    If the facts bare out on the abuse, she should never had been charged. It probably has to do with the story changing.
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    Distinguished Member Array kazzaerexys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TacticalCompact View Post
    I think you're forgetting that this is a child that has been seriously abused [...]
    I assure you, I am not. (And I will go with the assumption that her story is true.)

    You just can't expect a child of that young age, who has been physically, mentally, and emotionally abused for so long to be capable of any adult like thought. You can't hold someone who is enduring this type of trauma (?daily?) to the same high-standards of self-defense and imminent danger as you or I.
    With all due respect, yes, I can. More importantly, I can expect the courts to make a decision as to what standards she should be held to. If they wanted to find her not guilty based on a psychiatric finding of extreme PTSD from the abuse, they could have done that.

    When the kid in question is a scumbag who kills an innocent, we generally are not very forgiving about whatever sort of abusive home life may have come before the criminal charge and we (especially on this board) often clamor for the kid to be treated in a fashion commensurate with his acts. So I think it is not beyond the realm of belief to say that a child, even one in this terrible situation, ought to have realized that she might have some other options. (And please don't misunderstand me---I am not equating an abused girl to a gangsta wannabe; it's just that if a justice system is, in fact, going to be just, then the same rules need to apply to both the Good Guys and the Bad Guys.)

    Please believe me that I have nothing but sympathy for this girl, and had she gotten off scott-free I would be quite happy, but sympathy for a defendant does not equate to a lack of any criminal responsibility whatsoever---and I think the prosecutor/DA did show a lot of care in this case by trying her as a juvenile and going with the least possible criminal charge available. My previous post was merely an attempt to address why this girl could have faced charges, and why I don't think it was some sort of travesty of justice that she did.
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    Member Array blindluck's Avatar
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    The child was clearly abused. There is no IF to the story. The fact that this child was living in a flea-infested craphole is neglect which is a criminal offense to the courts. That doesn't answer whether or not she was sexually abused.

    It is standard operating procedure for possible sexual abuse or rape victims to get examined ASAP. The fact that the DA empathized with her and that she got just a manslaughter conviction helps me fill in the blank about whether or not she was molested.

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    VIP Member Array stormbringerr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whyipackmy45 View Post
    You should never lie about anything when making a statement to police.

    If you lie about one thing, then the jurors will assume you lied about everything.

    She's just a kid though. She doesn't know any better.

    They should check her for signs of physical abuse. She could've just made the abuse up to get out of trouble.
    im sure the prosecuting attorney had lots of evidence that she was abused,hence the decision for probation.
    PAs aren't exactly known for their forgiving natures.
    i just cant imagine what some kids go through that come from these horrible types of parents. they usually turn out to not make very good members of society. why some people even have kids is beyond me.
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