Friday, 19 August 2011

Prosecutors want teen suspect in principal's death tried as an adult Conviction would mean at least 51 years in prison

Shelby County prosecutors are preparing to seek the toughest punishment possible for a 16-year-old charged with stabbing his principal to death at school.
Meanwhile, the teen, Eduardo Marmolejo, is blending in with the jail population at the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center.
"He's behaving like a normal 16-year-old," said Rick Powell, who oversees the detention center. "He seems like he doesn't understand how serious this is."
Marmolejo, who has no prior criminal history, is charged with first-degree murder -- a killing that is deliberate and premeditated.
Shelby County Dist. Atty. Amy Weirich said during a phone interview Friday: "We will ask the Juvenile Court judges to transfer him to 201 Poplar (the Criminal Justice Center) to be tried as an adult."
If convicted as an adult, he would have to serve 51 years before he was eligible for parole.
Marmolejo has been attending classes and exercising alongside other juvenile detainees.
"I think he knows he did something wrong, but I don't think he realizes the consequences," Powell said. "It just looks like it hasn't sunk in."
Police arrested Marmolejo at Memphis Junior Academy, a Seventh-day Adventist school in East Memphis where the body of Suzette York, 49, was found on the morning of the third day of the school year.
Detectives said the teen told them he didn't like York -- who also taught classes at the small school -- and had plotted her death since May, when he learned he alone would be in her 11th-grade class.
This is the first killing at a Memphis school since 2004, when six students ganged up on 15-year-old Tarus Williams in the bathroom of Westside High School to hit him during a "beat in" as part of a gang initiation.
In that case, prosecutors were convinced the students did not mean to kill Williams, and so they were charged with reckless homicide as minors.
Weirich said she can't think of a case of first-degree murder where the Juvenile Court judge didn't agree to transfer the case to adult court.
That decision in Marmolejo's case is expected at an Aug. 24 hearing.
-- Beth Warren: (901) 529-2383

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