- Craig WatkinsDallas County District Attorney
- Craig Watkins
- Durrand HillDallas County District Attorney
Justice for Octavius D Lanier
On November 22, 2011, 19 year old Octavius Lanier was riding the DART train from home to a doctor’s appointment. While on that train, four young men approached him and attempted to bully him into giving them his iPod. The four young men taunted Octavius the entire train ride until he departed the train at the MLK station. Upon departing the train, the 12 year old young man proceeded to push Octavius. Instead of confronting the 12 year old young man, Octavius proceeded to walk away. At this time, the 12 year old & three 14 year old young men attacked Octavius and beat him until he was on the ground. Once on the ground all four of the young men proceeded to stomp him. At this time an older woman approached the young men and tried to intervene. During this time she placed herself between the young men and Octavius in an effort to stop the attack. Octavius then tried to walk away for the second time. As the older woman had herself placed between the young men and Octavius, they ignored her attempts to stop the attack and proceed to go around her and continued to beat him. Ultimately, one of the young men hit Octavius and pushed him into a moving DART train resulting in his death.
Currently the 4 young men are being held in the Dallas County juvenile system. As of Friday, January 27, 2012, two hearings to certify the young men as adults have been postponed. According to the DA’s office, the reason for the postponement is to give the family of Octavius Lanier more time to accept a plea deal of 3 years juvenile jail time and 27 years parole. The DA’s reasoning for sentencing the young men to only 3 years juvenile jail time is because they are minors with no prior criminal record. However during the course of this investigation, hundreds of videos of these young men committing other criminal acts on DART trains have been discovered including a video that captured the entire attack against Octavius Lanier.
The fact that there has been over a hundred videos discovered showing these young men committing other crimes proves that this was not their first offense. In fact, the videos substantiate the fact that these young men are escalating in their criminal acts. These young men should not be given leniency. They should be held accountable for their actions and punished accordingly. Although, the Lanier family was only affected by this tragic event, other families will be affected if these young men are released from juvenile in three years and given the opportunity to attack other innocent people . The Lanier family is fighting for justice for the death of Octavius as well as fighting for the safety and well-being of our society. Three years juvenile jail time is not an appropriate punishment for such a vicious attack that ended the life of an innocent man.
Please sign this petition in support of prosecuting these four young men.
- Dallas County District Attorney
- Craig Watkins
- Dallas County District Attorney
I just signed the following petition addressed to: Office of District Attorney.
I support the certification of juvenile offenders as adults. Currently there are 4 young men in the juvenile justice system that are being offered a plea deal of 3 years juvenile jail time then 27 years on parole. These young men committed a robbery that resulted in the death of Octavius Lanier at the MLK DART train station. These offenders should not be given a slap on the wrist, but punished for their actions. According to Juvenile Law and Procedure in Texas, “courts should focus on the type of offense and not the age of the accused”. Furthermore, it is not the courts responsibility to act as a parent, but to keep the protection of the community in mind. Additionally, these offenders should not be handled as “first time offenders”. Juvenile Law and Procedure in Texas states, “juvenile boards may establish first-offender programs for CINS violations or for state jail felony or misdemeanor offenses that do not involve violence to a person”. The acts these young men committed were violent in nature and occurred during the pursuit of a robbery that resulted in murder warranting all four young men being charged with capital murder.
According to Texas Penal Code Section 19.03,
CAPITAL MURDER. (a) A person commits an offense if the person commits murder as defined under Section 19.02(b)(1)
Section 19.02 (b) (1)
(b) A person commits an offense if he:
(1) Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual; and:
Section 19.03 (a)(2)
(2) the person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6).
Therefore three of the four young men should not be given a three-year plea deal, but stand trial as adults. According to Juvenile Law and Procedure in Texas, “in order to be certified as an adult and have one’s case transferred to criminal court for capital offenses, first-degree felony offenses, and aggravated controlled substance felony offenses committed before age 17, a person must be at least 14 when committing the offense”. These young men have met the requirements of the law to stand trail as adults. Anything less than the three 14 year old young men standing trial as adults, would not be justice for the death of Octavius Lanier or the community according to Texas laws. To hand down a sentence without the benefit of certification as adults is allowing the young men to receive a punishment that is not appropriate for the nature of the crime.
Referencing Juvenile Law and Procedure:
Certification as an Adult (Discretionary Transfer to Criminal Court)
For many serious or chronic felony offenders, certification as an adult is deemed to be the most appropriate option. If a child is certified to stand trial as an adult, the child faces the same range of punishment that an adult would face for the same crime, except for a juvenile is not eligible for the death penalty. A child who was 14 at the time of commission of the offense may be certified for the following serious offenses: capital felonies, aggravated controlled substance felonies, or first degree felonies.
I implore you to do the right thing by Octavius Lanier by seeking prosecution of the three 14 year olds as adults.
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