WAYNESBORO, Ga. — The 10-year-old accused of killing his father’s girlfriend in her Midville home in December denied the allegation at an arraignment Tuesday in Burke County Juvenile Court.
The boy is charged with murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, said his attorney, Pete Theodocion.
On Dec. 30, Burke County sheriff’s deputies found Jennifer Albright, 31, shot to death in her Fry Lane home.
Judge Willie Saunders asked the boy a series of questions Tuesday, including where he went to school and what his grades were.
He reminded the child’s parents, who are divorced, that they are also under the court’s jurisdiction, which means the court can impose conditions such as community service or counseling on them. They have the same rights as the boy, Saunders said, and can ask for representation. They are required to be present at court hearings.
“You are both necessary parts in these proceedings,” the judge said. “We can’t move forward without you.”
Saunders said the boy’s psychological reports have been completed and will be reviewed. Those records are sealed.
A status hearing was scheduled for late February. Saunders said he hopes to have a preliminary report by then.
After covering the next steps, Saunders asked the boy whether he had any questions.
“No, sir,” said the youngest person charged with murder that Theodocion said he has seen in his 15-year career.
The 10-year-old’s trial is set for April. Until then, he will remain in the Augusta Regional Youth Detention Center.
Under Georgia law, anyone younger than 13 cannot be prosecuted as an adult in Superior Court. If the boy is found guilty in Juvenile Court, he will be out on his 21st birthday at the latest, Theodocion said.
After the arraignment, Theodocion said he will question the admissibility of the boy’s statement to police at the time of the shooting. He said that officials went through all the necessary steps and a guardian was present but that he still believes the statement is inadmissible because the boy is so young.
“I don’t know whether that’s enough,” the defense attorney said. “I have a hard time believing a 10-year-old can grasp his constitutional rights.”
Calls to Assistant District Attorney Pittman Morris were not immediately returned.
The boy’s grandmother was quick to defend him: “He told me, ‘Nana, all I wanted was for her to hurt like she hurt me. She wasn’t supposed to die.’”
Albright’s family left the courtroom quickly and declined to comment.