NOBLESVILLE, Ind. -- The Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney says he knows many will find the decision to charge the 13-year-old accused of shooting a classmate and teacher at a Noblesville middle school "unsatisfying" but the decision was made solely based on Indiana's current juvenile law.
The 13-year-old is accused of entering Jason Seaman's classroom on Friday, May 25 and firing multiple shots, striking a classmate, Ella Whistler, seven times. Classmates say Seaman then tackled the shooter but not before being shot three times.
Seaman was treated and released from the hospital the following day. Whistler remains in the hospital with multiple injuries but family members say she improves a little bit each day.
In court documents filed Tuesday, the prosecuting attorney petitioned for the 13-year-old (who RTV6 will not name because of his age) to be charged as a "delinquent child" meaning that he committed acts that would be a felony or misdemeanor crimes if they were committed by an adult.
"As Prosecuting Attorney I do not make the laws applicable to criminal or juvenile cases," D. Lee Buckingham II said in the release. "My office works diligently to seek justice and enforce the laws as they exist."
Under current Indiana law, Buckingham says the Noblesville case is not eligible to be heard in adult court because he is below the minimum age for the acts he committed to be considered "adult" crimes and because, although the crimes are considered "heinous" neither Whistler or Seaman were killed.
"A child 13 years of age can only be waived to adult court if the attempt to murder an individual or individuals is actually successful. In this case, due to the heroic and extraordinary efforts of many people, including teachers, a school nurse, the Noblesville Police Department School Resource Officer, and many other first responders and medical providers, thankfully, Jason Seaman and Ella Whistler survived. This blessing results in this matter remaining in the juvenile justice system under our current laws, a result which will, I am sure, be very troubling and unsatisfying for many people."
Below, Buckingham breaks down some of the legislative provisions and explains why they do not relate to the Noblesville shooter's case.
- First: Several specific offenses, including attempted murder, are known colloquially as “direct file” offenses because charges are filed directly into an adult court, but this provision applies only to children who are 16 years of age or older.
- Second: Certain levels of felonies, including Level 1 felonies, are eligible for waiver, which is a process whereby the Court may permit the matter to be handled within the adult system, but this provision also applies only to children who are 16 years of age or older.
- Third: “Heinous or aggravated acts” that would constitute felonies are eligible for waiver, but this provision applies only to children who are 14 years of age or older.
- Fourth: Other felonies are eligible for waiver, but this provision applies only to children who are 16 years of age or older.
- Finally: An act constituting murder is eligible for waiver for children who are 12 years of age or older, but this statute has been expressly interpreted to not include an act constituting attempted murder.
The accused shooter has an initial hearing set for June 11 at 8:30 a.m. A trial date has not been set.
You can read the full petition for charges filed by the Hamilton County Prosecuting Attorney below.
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