An 8-year-old boy has been charged this week with the murder of a 1-year-old in relation to an October 10 incident in Alabama. The infant’s mother is now disputing allegations that she left the children at home alone that night in order to go out to a nightclub with her friend. Police are reporting that the woman and her friend left the boy to watch over five younger children that night and that the boy allegedly beat the 1-year-old to death because she would not stop crying.
John Zach and Susan Rose of WBEN asked Paul Cambria, a noted criminal defense attorney in the Buffalo area and nationwide, for his analysis of the charges against both the boy and the mother. The full interview is available at WBEN’s website.
Negligence doesn’t equal manslaughter
The mother in this case is now facing charges of manslaughter and disputing the allegations that she left the children home alone. When asked about the charges against the mother, Mr. Cambria said that he did not see them holding up. “I understand their theory is that her reckless conduct caused the death, but I think that there is one step removed,” he said. “There may be some other neglect type laws in Alabama, but I don’t see manslaughter sticking.”
Children tried in family court
Mr. Cambria was asked to comment on the handling of a murder charge in family court, as that is where the 8-year-old in question will be tried. He responded that “in Alabama, you have to be over 14 to be charged as an adult. In fact, [when] this story first came out, they said they were going to charge him as an adult, which they can’t do under their laws.”
Mr. Cambria also commented on how the case would be handled in New York State. “It has happened in New York State and in Western New York”, he said. “In New York, you have to be over 13 to be charged as an adult, so that’s how it would happen. Here, if you’re 8 years old, you’d be in family court.”
Child may not understand the consequences
Discussing whether the 8-year-old would understand the charges he is facing, Mr. Cambria said that “the real issue [is] whether or not an 8-year-old can form that intent necessary to commit that crime.” He went on to say, “That’s going to be one of the big issues in this case.”
About Paul Cambria
The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.