PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania (AFP) - US appeals judges Tuesday began considering whether a 13-year-old boy accused of murder could be tried as an adult -- and risk spending the rest of his life behind bars.
The Pennsylvania Superior Court was considering a case that has attracted international scrutiny because of the possibility that Jordan Brown, who was just 11 at the time of his alleged crime, might be imprisoned as an adult and never be released.
The three-judge panel queried lawyers about the decision by a lower court to bar Brown from being sent to a juvenile court.
A key requirement of the juvenile court would be for Brown to show potential for rehabilitation, in which case he could be free as early as when he turned 21.
However, the lower court found against him after insisting that he show remorse -- something his lawyers say he can't do, given that he insists he did not commit the murder.
On Tuesday, defense lawyers argued that the lower court had violated Brown's Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination. Appeals judges said this was the key issue to consider.
"The bottom line is, from my viewpoint: were his Fifth Amendment rights violated because of the way the trial court handled these proceedings?" Superior Court Judge Cheryl Allen asked a prosecution lawyer.Answer Question
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