Lyle boy charged in killing won't be tried as adult

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Friday, October 15, 1982
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Lyle boy charged in killing won't be tried as adult

The 14-year-old Lyle, Minn., boy accused of killing his former teacher will not stand trial as an adult, Mower County Judge Paul Kimball Jr. ruled Thursday.

Kimball said that although the crime was aggressive and violent, "lacking is evidence that it was committed willfully, with premeditation and foreseeable consequences."

The youth is charged with shooting Sharon Turnbull, 33, through a screen door with a .22 caliber rifle as she watched television in her home Aug. 6.

Kimball was unavailable for comment on his order.

Assistant County Attorney Charlotte Peterson also declined comment on the order as did the boy's attorney, Bruce Hanley, of Minneapolis. Kimball has instructed court officers not to speak to the press about the case, and he denied a request by the Minneapolis Star and Tribune to attend the three-day adult reference hearing last week.

The order means the boy, if found guilty of the killing and declared delinquent in juvenile court, can be referred for psychological treatment and held in a youth detention center. But he cannot be confined past his 21st birthday.

County Attorney Fred Kraft had said he wanted the youth tried as an adult because of the seriousness of the crime.

In his order, Kimball said, "The state has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence both that there is a threat to society by retention (in the juvenile court system) and that the child is not amenable to treatment. The state has not been able to meet this burden."

Kimball seemed to base his decision largely on testimony from corrections and court personnel, who testified to the adequacy of juvenile detention centers and treatment programs, and from three psychologists and a psychiatrist who examined the boy.

"They were unanimous in their believe that the child is amenable to treatment within the purview of the juvenile system, that sufficient time for treatment exists while he is within the jurisdictional limits of the juvenile system and that the public safety is not endangered by retention in juvenile court," Kimball said.

Kraft has said that the boy was apparently upset with a grade he received from Turnbull, and that there may have been other school-related misunderstandings.

The boy was arrested a year ago for spray-painting Turnbull's car, but Kimball dismissed the case after a defense attorney argued that police conducted an illegal search.

It's expected that Kimball will remove himself from the juvenile trial because some evidence admitted to the adult reference hearing pertaining to the boy's character and other "hearsay" comments about the boy would be inadmissible during a trial.

A trial judge would be appointed by the chief judge in the state's Third Judicial District. No trial date was set.