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Charles Montaldo

Weekly Crime Poll: Fifth Graders Legally Responsible?

By February 15, 2013

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Two fifth-grade students, ages 10 and 11, were arrested after admitting to an alleged plan to kill a girl in their Fort Colville Elementary School class and possibly hurt other students.

The two boys were questioned after another student reported to a school employee that he saw one of the boys with a knife while on the school bus. When authorities searched the 10-year-old's backpack, they found a knife, a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol and a full ammunition clip.

The 10-year-old said that he and the other boy were planning to get a female classmate away from school, then the 11-year-old was going to stab her while the 10-year-old kept everyone away. The 11-year-old at first denied knowing anything about the knife or gun, but then later admitted to the plot to kill the girl and six other classmates. Another boy was allegedly in on the plan and was promised $80 not say anything.

Under Washington state law, children between the ages of 8 and 12 are presumed incapable of committing a crime. For them to be tried in juvenile court on criminal charges, prosecutors have to prove that seven different factors where involved in the crime, including if they knew what they were doing was wrong and they tried to cover it up.

The boys were charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, tampering with a witness and conspiracy to possess a firearm. They are currently being held in juvenile hall.

Poll: Do you think fifth graders should be held legally responsible when they commit a crime?
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