INDIANAPOLIS – After the arrest of a 16-year-old accused of murder, one judge says probation officers took notice.
Marion County Juvenile Judge Marilyn Moores told FOX59 News that the Juvenile Division’s Probation Office has tightened up its response after a teenager under its supervision was arrested on a murder charge last week despite a history of breaking court rules.
“I guess the probation officers have gotten the message,” wrote Judge Moores, “that notifying the court after three missed checks MEANS notify the court after three missed checks!”
The presiding judge in Marion County’s Juvenile Division was responding to a FOX59 News inquiry about a 14-year-old boy named Christian whose mother said the teen had become defiant and unruly, committing thefts and missing multiple probation curfews all while reported carrying a gun. The woman said she was weary of appearing in court with her son and calling his probation officer yet not getting results.
“The first time we went it was for him breaking in a car and they dismissed the charges even though he violated 15 times for curfew violations,” said the mother. “He cut off his wristband but he was arrested or detained, I would say, for a week but nothing else was done because they dismissed the case.
“He’s on probation and he’s back on the curfew that he violated 15 times before which he’s on that now. He’s violated the fourth violation.”
FOX59 News told Judge Moores that the youth has threatened to shoot up his own mother’s house if she continues to call the police and his probation officer.
“Any sort of gun arrest pegs the risk assessment instrument,” said Moores. “You will be detained.”
Shortly after the interview, Moores discovered Christian was due back before the bench on April 28, but, unlike the Simeon Adams case, when the alleged teen killer was reported missing nine times during a probation check, this time probation officers have moved swiftly to detain the child.
“A detention order was issued,” wrote Moores, “because he missed three curfew checks.”
“We’ll keep an eye on this kid.”
The mother told FOX59 News she was appreciative of the judge’s additional attention to her son’s case and would cooperate with the court.
“He doesn’t care,” said Christian’s mother. “If he can’t follow the rules now, later on those rules are going to be laws and it’s just going to continue so something has to happen and I’m praying to God that something happens to him.
“Each time he leaves, I worry about, are the police going to knock on the door and tell me something has happened or is he dead? Every time he leaves my house, that’s what I have to worry about.”
Moores said the response by the juvenile probation officers to Christian’s case, without her prompting, proves the case workers have recognized the mistakes that were made in the Adams case.
Adams, 16, was on home detention and probation when he missed nine home visits by probation officers.
Moores said the probation department should have notified juvenile judges after three missed visits, but she admits, the court, a probation supervisor and a deputy prosecutor also did not sense the urgency of Adams’ failure to cooperate.
“What we needed was someone to say, ‘Here’s the situation. Issue a detention order.’ Probation didn’t ask for a detention order. They asked for a hearing.
“If I see the file, I can do it. The magistrate who is on the file, he can do it. It is typically done by probation because they are the people who are aware of the conditions and with what’s going on and are meeting with the probationer.
“When we get requests for violations, they come in stacks this high,” said Moores, raising her hand two feet above her conference room table. “In order to be able to process those we’re relying very heavily on what the probation officer’s recommendation is.
“If that kid isn’t where they’re supposed to be three times, file the violations,” she said. “Don’t wait until they’re nine.”
Unfortunately for Christian, but luckily for his mother, the teen’s rebellion against probation’s rules comes a week after another youth, accused of murder, was caught too late.
The added focus on Christian’s case is an answer to his mother’s prayers.
“I would like him to be detained so he could get some help.”