Published: October 9, 2019
Author: Molly Jirasek with the Heart of Illinois ABC
WOODFORD COUNTY (HOI) – A 9-year-old is accused of setting a fire which killed five of his family members in Goodfield, including three toddlers. Now the boy faces murder and arson charges.
However, it is unlikely he will be detained, let alone sentenced.
Though she is not affiliated with the case, defense attorney, Maureen Williams, said state regulations are in place to protect minors charged with crimes.
“They’re just so fragile, they’re just kids,” she said, “it’s just a whole other ball game because you really have to go out of your way to calm them down and try to explain everything to them, and tell them everything is going to be okay.”
The Woodford County State’s Attorney said if the child is found delinquent, he could be put on probation for at least five years, but not beyond the age of 21.
“The state’s attorney, I know him and he’s a good man and he’s a deliberate person and I’m sure he really struggled with this decision,” said Williams.
In Illinois, Williams said a child can only be tried as an adult if they are 13 or older. In this case, the child is also too young to go to jail, or even a juvenile detention center. She said these cases are often resolved without a formal trial.
“He will most likely have intense counseling. They make sure that he’s evaluated and then they figure out a treatment plan and they go forward with it, and monitor to make sure he’s staying with the treatment plan.”
Williams also said the challenge for the prosecution will be proving to a judge that the child understood his actions. In juvenile cases, records are often expunged, but when First Degree Murder charges are present, Williams said expungement would not be possible.
The fire happened Saturday, April 6, 2019.