Lawyer: Jailed 10-year-old accused of beating 90-year-old to death is scared, lonely & misses his mom

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WAYNE COUNTY, Pennsylvania (AP) A 10-year-old boy who’s been in an adult jail since authorities say he fatally beat a 90-year-old woman two months ago is scared, lonely and misses his mother, his public defender said.

The boy, one of the youngest ever to face an adult homicide charge in Pennsylvania, met with family through a glass partition when he was first brought to the county lockup in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. More recently, he was permitted to have physical contact with them, according to the attorney, Scott Bennett.

“So his mom can give him a hug,” he said this week.

The beating occurred Oct. 11 at the home of the boy’s grandfather, who had been caring for the victim, Helen Novak. The boy became angered when he went into Novak’s room to ask her a question and she yelled at him, according to the boy’s mother, who brought him to a state police barracks later that day.

According to the mother, the boy told her that “he got mad, lost his temper and grabbed a cane and put it around Novak’s throat,” police said. The boy told a trooper he punched her several times in the throat and stomach while holding her down on the bed, authorities have said.

The boy has since met with a psychiatrist retained by the attorney general's office. The defense intends to have him see its own mental health expert, and Bennett said he will seek a transfer to juvenile court. He wants the boy treated in a youth facility.

"He's doing as well as can be expected. He's a 10-year-old kid away from his family. This is not an easy thing," Bennett said.

The boy is housed away from the adult population, but he's not in solitary confinement, according to the jail outside Honesdale. His cell doors are opened in the morning and locked at night, like the other inmates. The boy is supplied with books and movies, and a certified teacher helps him keep up with his schooling, said Vicky Botjer, chief clerk of Wayne County.

"The Wayne County Correctional Facility is housing the defendant in a safe environment," she said via email.

The Associated Press generally doesn't identify juveniles who are accused of crimes.

An attorney who initially represented the boy had petitioned to have him released into the custody of his father or moved to a juvenile detention facility. But he withdrew his request, saying the family wasn't comfortable having him placed in their care, and the closest youth facility was 80 miles away.

So the boy has remained in the adult jail.

Marsha Levick, chief counsel of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, questioned what she viewed as a lack of urgency in the case. Even if the boy is being treated well, an adult lockup simply isn't equipped to meet a child's needs, she said.

"It's shocking. I'm not sure there's another state in the country where we would see this, a 10-year-old boy sitting in an adult county jail for two months," she said. "This is not in any way to diminish the crime he is charged with, which is the most serious crime, but we don't treat children in this country this way."

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, which is prosecuting the boy, declined to comment.


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  • dan

    I think if they do this with all kids maybe crime would go down. Don’t give criminals special treatment no matter what the age. That’s all guvi is, is a camp for kid’s pretty much. You committed a crime here you can play games and watch tv. This country needs to make punishment more sivier so they won’t reafend. And people on death row need to just go. It’s called death row for a reason right? So kill them already and stop wasting tax payers money keeping these murderers and rapist who constantly reafend alive.

    • jason

      Why i agree with the fact that some crimes should be punished by death, your comment of “kill them already” shows you lack a basic understanding of the criminal justice system. Since 1973, over 150 people have had their death row convictions dismissed due to either new evidence, wronfull convictions, or dna tests. This is not counting the over 1000 people that were executed despite serious doubts as to their guilt. The average time they spent on death row before their cases were exaunerhated, 11.5 yrs. Thats 150 innocent humans that would have been executed for a crime they did not commit. Perhaps you were not aware of this fact, I cant imagine anyone being ok with a human being put to death for a crime they did not commit. There is a reason death sentences take so long to carry out. Is executing a innocent person, any different from being a cold blooded murderer?

      • DavidK

        EVERY system I’ve used has some form of spell-check; it’s the user’s choice to pay attention to it or not – at their peril.

  • s.burrows

    Why do people always blame the parents? Sometimes the best parents and families have that ONE kid that is difficult no matter what they do to help and correct it. The mom turned him in!, they family don’t want to have custody of him. They know him better than the rest and if they don’t feel comfortable, that tells you something. I don’t know all the facts, so it seems the state and family are doing the right thing to protect each other and up stand the law.

  • Marc

    I have no problem with him being there. For as long as history, kids his age have known the difference between right and wrong and have had a lot more responsibility in the past. Lock him up for a minimum of 25 years. If he’s starting this young, that should be an incredible warning sign. Some people are just born psychotic.

  • Yolanda

    And exactly how is the jail supposed to be equipped to house a 10 year old?? This isn’t vacation…IT’S JAIL!! You murdered someone. You don’t get milk and cookies at bed time. Deal with the consequences.

  • Melodie

    Does anyone remember the kid who shot the sheriff early 1900s I believe who was in a adult facility. Before the priest took him to boys town. .. He is obviously a very sick little boy and we can blame parents and society partly for him. We are a society that feed violence, murder and sexuality to children everyday whom are not equip to deal with it let alone fully understand the conscience of it! Movies video games tv constant bombardment to there growing minds. So yes he needs to live with the consciences but look in the mirror we have all played a part in this lost life by turning a deaf ear and looking the other way ! I pray he gets the help he so desperately needs.

  • Angry Humanist

    The vast majority of these comments disgust me. Whether the child knows right from wrong is not the issue! The issue is that children are NOT adults. They do not have the capacity to think, reason, or comprehend the way an adult does. I’m not saying “set him free”. I am saying that this is a CHILD and needs to be treated as a child. The majority of you that are commenting not only seriously lack compassion of any kind, but you also show a complete inability to understand basic differences from children and adults. These hateful, nasty comments are a clear picture of everything that is wrong in this country.

    • TJ

      “These hateful, nasty comments are a clear picture of everything that is wrong in this country.”

      No, the idiots who reproduce and refuse to discipline their kids are what’s wrong with this country. The parents who don’t believe in telling their kids NO; the mom who names her kid after a type of incense and thinks her 3-year-old should decide her own destiny; the dad who wants to be his kids best friend instead of his parent, the 16-year-olds popping out kids because they hope to get on a teen mom show to be rich and famous, but in reality grandma ends up raising little (insert trailer trash/future stripper name here) while mom drops out of high school, sits on welfare, and pops out a new kid every couple years so she can get more welfare money…. THAT’s what is wrong with this country.

      The hateful, nasty comments are from those of us who are tired of what’s happening to this country, and the pity party going on toward those hell bent on destroying it. It’s time to stop coddling the idiots, supporting the lazy, and stop feeling sorry for criminals. My kids damn sure knew at 10 years old that killing someone is wrong – even punching someone (especially a 90-yo woman). The fact that his own family wants nothing to do with him says a LOT! The kid is a future Manson, Dahmer, Gacy or Gein. There is no rehab for him. His brain is broken. Normal people don’t think like that – hell most serial killers aren’t even killing animals yet at that age. And you’re worried about the boy being in an adult jail? LOL I’d be afraid for the other inmates.

    • jade

      You haven’t watched halloween have you. Being a kid doesn’t mean shit. You aren’t completely fucking stupid as a kid. He knew what he was doing. Kid is a fucking psycho. Think otherwise? Let him live with you then

  • kelly

    After reading the article and all of the comments he is where he needs to be although I disagree with letting him watch movies .Sure keep up with his education and then give him a job to do every day ..He is in this position because he got yelled at !! He should have turned around and walked out of her room and went and told his grandfather….
    But he chose to kill her he is where he needs to be period…..

  • Deborah Broockerd

    Did anyone else catch the statement that his family “didn’t feel comfortable” having him released into their care. Or transferred to a juvenile facility 80 miles away. If they don’t want him back in their home that surely says a great deal about this child.

  • Rae VanWinkle

    Obviously this child was aloud to act out inappropriately or he would not have acted the way he did! If our children are not made to account for their actions and taught manners and some kind of self control, then this is what you get, a dangerous animal that needs to be locked up! But in this case the parents who aloud him to be this way, also should be in their own cell right next to him, then maybe they could start teaching him what they should have already done! You might think this cruel, but the punishment needs to fit the crime and this boy violently killed another human being! If anyone that feels this is not the right kind of punishment, then maybe he should be sent to their homes and they can deal with him and their families and then see if they can sleep at night knowing he’s under their roof, and could go off at any moment because he didn’t get what he wanted! Maybe next time it will be someone’s baby!

    • S Burrows

      WHY do you thinks the parents did a bad job? I have an adopted son who has several behavioral disorders, Bipolar etc. We have taught him right from wrong, Loved him, taken him to doctors, therapists etc since he was 3 years old.
      We continually on a daily basis do our best to teach him, train him . We are doing everything right, but sometimes that isn’t enough. I am saying the kid did the crime, now he must to the time. But do your homework before you blame the parents!

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