December 22, 2014   |   Alissa Kokkins
December 22, 2014
(TheAntiMedia) Damascus Township, PA– In early October, 10 year old Tristen Kurilla was charged as an adult in the murder of 90 year old Helen Novak, an elderly woman in his grandfather’s care. When his grandfather found Novak she was injured, but declined going to the hospital. She later died from her injuries.
After confessing his crime to his mother, she brought him to the state police barracks where he confessed to the crime. The child told police that he had put a cane around her neck and punched her repeatedly after she had scolded and yelled at him. The 5th grader told officers he was not trying to kill the woman, but wanted to hurt her. His mother then waived his right to an attorney.
No details have been released on what would cause such a young child who likely has not even entered puberty to snap in such an extreme manor. His mother did tell police that she has had trouble with her son in the past however, and that he has mental difficulties and has been previously violent. It is currently unclear if she ever sought help to get to the root of her son’s issues.
While Kurilla is one of the youngest children to sit in an adult prison in Pennsylvania, the state has a mandatory law that all acts of criminal homicide must first be filed in adult court by the prosecutor, regardless the age of the perpetrator. Only Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin lack age thresholds (typically 13-15) so that a 10 year old may be tried as an adult.
Juvenile detention facilities in the state will not accept children charged with homicide. While this state’s laws are extreme, every state in the country now has ways of transferring juvenile cases to adult court- with estimates of minors tried as adults annually as high as 250,000.
Kurilla has now been sitting in an adult prison for over two months, since the October 11th incident.
His public defender told Fox2 that the child is scared, lonely, and misses his mother.
While Kurilla is currently housed away from the adult population, any logical human being should be able to acknowledge that prison is not a place for a child, and it is unlikely he will receive any effective treatment or the counseling he clearly needs.
A petition was originally filed to have the child released into parental custody or moved to a juvenile facility. Sadly, the petition was withdrawn when the family decided they were not comfortable having their child in their care, and upon realization that the closest juvenile facility was 80 miles away.
There is no question that the crime this child allegedly commit is atrocious, but when the justice system is charging children who are still years away from being a teenager as adults- we may have a problem. The child is currently facing a minimum of 25 years in prison.
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