Two years ago, a 12-year-old girl in Florida was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder after her grandfather was found dead in their bedroom.
The incident happened in June 2012 and was the first time a child was charged with first-person homicide.
It also became the first such case to be brought to trial in the US.
The girl was 17 years old at the time of the incident.
Her lawyer, Michael Lappin, told Al Jazeera that his client was taken off the street because of the case.
“She was being taken into a home in a remote area where there was a lot of violence, drug dealing and a lot more of it,” Lappins told Aljazeera.
She was charged after the death of her grandfather, George Houser, a father of three and the father of two girls, ages six and nine, who had been visiting the family for the holidays.
Houser had been suffering from a terminal illness.
On July 31, 2012, the case was heard in the Sarasota County Court of Common Pleas in Florida, and on October 2, 2012 the trial court found the girl not guilty.
Lappons lawyer, Matthew Lippmann, argued that the prosecution’s case was flawed because there were “overwhelming inconsistencies” with the case file and other witnesses.
After the trial, prosecutors said they would not seek the death penalty for the girl because of “significant and compelling evidence” and that “there is no evidence that would indicate that the defendant was responsible for the death.”
Lappins defence team argued that it was a case of “victim blaming”, in which the family was unfairly blamed.
In a statement to the Associated Press, Lippins said: “When we filed our case with the police, they didn’t believe us.
The prosecutor didn’t think we had enough evidence to go to trial.”
In her closing argument, prosecutor Mary Burch told the court: “You are charged with killing your mother, and you have been charged with the killing of your grandmother.
You are charged in the death, of course, of your own grandfather.”
The prosecution has said that the girl had told investigators that Housers death was the result of “violent and unpredictable behaviour”.
She was also accused of making up a story about a domestic dispute that happened after the incident to justify her own murder.
Lippins defence argued that this was an “abuse of process” and “reckless disregard” for the legal process.
At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, Judge Jennifer Burch said the girl was “a young woman who made a horrible mistake in her own eyes”.
She added: It is clear you were in a state of extreme distress.
She made a terrible mistake.
She had the capacity to think about it and make the right choice, but she did not. Read more The case prompted the US Department of Justice to launch a probe into the US justice system and how it treats victims of crime.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said: “As part of our ongoing review of the criminal justice system, the Department is working with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the FBI to determine how we address and improve the treatment of children and youth in our criminal justice systems.”
Read the full story at the Associated News.