Prosecutors dropped murder charges against a 14-year-old boy and his mother accused of fatally shooting a man at a hot dog stand in Chicago. Originally, prosecutors said the mother, Carlishia Hood, instructed her son to bring a gun from their vehicle into a restaurant and shoot one of the patrons who had attacked her. Both Hood and her son turned themselves in. Hood was being held on a $3 million bond.
Now, in a statement, the state's attorney's office says, "in light of emerging evidence, today the Cook County State's Attorney's Office (CCSAO) has moved to dismiss the charges. Based upon the facts, evidence, and the law we are unable to meet our burden of proof in the prosecution of these cases."
A video making the rounds on social media appears to show the moments leading up to the shooting, when the man who was killed is seen swinging at Hood three times. Prosecutors had claimed the mother told her son to keep shooting the man, even as the man ran from the hot dog stand into the parking lot. Over the weekend, many on social media expressed outrage over the incident and support online for the 14-year-old's actions.
While there's speculation that the video had something to do with murder charges being dropped, the state's attorney's office did not detail what evidence pushed them to drop the charges.
Marsha Levick from Philadelphia's Juvenile Law Center says the law draws a distinction between children and adults.
"There are very specific differences between children and adults, specifically with respect to culpability, and blameworthiness. And in some instances, with respect to competency and capacity to commit crimes," Levick said.
Several Supreme Court decisions have softened the legal system's view of minors. Most recently, Miller v. Alabama found children are constitutionally different from adults, and that has to be considered during sentencing.
In her majority opinion, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan said, "Preventing judges and juries in that way from thinking about all of the differences between children and adults and among particular children violates the Eighth Amendment."
"Even in homicide cases, kids will be treated differently than adults in terms of sentencing. The same areas of the brain that control judgment, mature decision making, that are still developing during adolescence and through the teenage years, are still developing after 18, after 19, after 21," Levick said.
According to Chicago police, Carlishia Hood and her son had no criminal history prior to this incident.
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