Charging a 5-year-old with Murder?

Via Reuters:  Kansas City girl, 5, may face murder charges in drowning

Johnson, 18 months old, was in a Kansas City house on June 3rd with other children, but the 16-year-old girl who was supposed to be looking after them fell asleep, Snapp said.

Investigators learned through interviews that a 5-year-old girl in the house got irritated at the boy, Snapp said.

"She said she got angry because he would not stop crying and she held him under the water until he stopped crying," Snapp said.

This is, by definition, a tragedy, but the notion that they are even considering filing murder charges against a 5-year-old strikes me as absurd.  Now, the sleeping 16-year-old, or the parents, may well be open to negligence charges or the like, but the idea that a 5-year-old?

FILED UNDER: Crime, Quick Takes
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. What’s the minimum age for juvenile court jurisdiction in Kansas?

  2. Bah, posted that before I remembered that the main Kansas City is in Missouri.

    I blame Mondays.

  3. ptfe says:

    See here for the list. Missouri has no legal minimum for competence; Kansas has it at 10.

  4. ptfe says:

    More fun facts to know and share about MO’s juvenile justice system.

  5. @Timothy:

    Mondays have a lot to answer for, to be sure.

  6. James Joyner says:

    I generally think our minimum age laws are bizarre. I’m not sure where one draws the line. But, surely, it’s well north of 5.

  7. Southern Hoosier says:

    Investigators learned through interviews that a 5-year-old girl in the house got irritated at the boy, Snapp said.

    “She said she got angry because he would not stop crying and she held him under the water until he stopped crying,” Snapp said.

    If the child had lied or tried to cover up the crime, which would show that she was aware that what she did was wrong. But at her age she was totally unaware that she had done anything wrong or that death was a permanent state.

    My question if I was an investigator, where did she get the idea that putting the baby under water would make it be quite? Did she come up with that on her own or did she learn it from an adult?

  8. Michael Reynolds says:

    Not every tragedy is a legal matter. Anyone who would charge a 5 year old should be themselves charged with child abuse.

  9. PD Shaw says:

    I get the feeling this story isn’t being reported well. They’re waiting for the medical examiner’s report, which one suspects will conclude that there was a homicide. Then it will be up to the prosecutor to decide if and how to prosecute. I get the feeling somebody asked the police whether it was possible the child may be prosecuted for murder and the officer say “it’s possible.” According to ptfe, it is.

  10. @PD:

    I agree that poor reporting is a possibility.

  11. Southern Hoosier says:

    What the F**** is wrong with these people????

    There were seven children in the home that night; the oldest was Curry’s 16-year old sister who has some mental disabilities and was caring for two infants as well as the four older children. Curry’s own mother had left to pick up a relative.

    A 16 year old with mental disabilities left in charge of 7 children!

    http://www.kplr11.com/news/ktvi-mother-speak-5-year-old-drowns-kc-61211,0,213969.story

  12. george says:

    I can’t believe they’re actually going to press murder charges (or even jay walking) on a five year old. I wonder if “considering” means the thought appearing, everyone looking at each other, and then saying “Naw, stupid idea.”

  13. Tsar Nicholas says:

    The notion of charging a 5 year-old with murder not only is absurd it’s repugnant. And I say that as someone who’s to the right of Dirty Harry Callahan on law and order issues. That said, however, it seems doubtful at best that any such charges would in actuality be filed. I suspect this is a case of headline dissonance and lazy reporting.

  14. Southern Hoosier says:

    I suspect this is a case of headline dissonance and lazy reporting.

    And I suspect that it is a case of sensational headlines driving ratings

  15. Rick Shreiner says:

    Politically incorrect I know, and with appropriate apologies in advance, these officials in Kansas City must be RETARDED ….
    They just don’t appear to have the common sense Gawd gave an oyster.