Sixty years is a lifetime for a 15 year old child, especially when he is innocent. Help right this wrong by changing the practice of sending children to prison.
Accepting that juveniles have the right to due process, and that due process requires jury findings on facts risking increased punishment, it necessarily follows that juvenile waiver hearing facts must be made by a jury under a reasonable doubt standard.
IN September 2008, Martin Anthony Villalon Jr. was asked to come to the Hammond, indiana, police station. He was arrested for the murder of a 15 year old boy living in his neighborhood. Anthony (Martin) was 15 years old. At the time of the shooting Anthony was with 10 other people at a family gathering at a public place. Anthony's lawyer decided not to use Anthony's alibi although several witnesses waited outside the court room for the entire trial. There were several problems brought up at trial but our lawyer did not address them.
In early September 2008 the police picked up two gang associates/members, who claimed that they overheard Anthony and another boy claim they had shot the boy. Later they recanted on the stand, claiming they were forced to make those statements. When arrested Anthony made no statements other than to say he did not do the crime. No physical evidence connecting Anthony to the crime was recovered. The DNA recovered from the victim did not match Anthony. The victim had been at a known gang house minutes before he was shot.
Because Anthony was 15 at the time of the offense, he was subject to ajudication in Indiana's juvenile justice system, which could retain jurisdiction over him until he reached the age of 21. That punishment ceiling was pierced as a result of a juvenile court waiver hearing when a magistrate allowed Anthony's case to be transferred to adult court where he faced a mandatory sentence of 45 to 65 years. He received 60 years. Never been in trouble, well liked by everyone. Many people including a police officer, who was repremanded from his commanding officer for his letter, wrote wonderful character statements for Anthony. A sentence of 60 years is a lifetime for a 15 year old, and almost unbearable for an innocent child.
We are pleading with the Supreme Court to allow Anthony his jury trial in the juvenile system. They have the Writ in front of them right now. If they afirm things will change. Help make the change a fair and equal way we treat our children in the justice system.Please give Anthony his day in court by allowing a jury trial in the juvenile system, for Anthony and all the children, guilty and innocent to have a chance at a life. I am begging all who read this please help support our efforts to give all juveniles a right to a jury trial before being waived to the adult court. These kids are wasting away in adult prisons where they are at the mercy of older more experienced inmates. Please don't throw Anthony away, don't throw any of our children away. Thank you.
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