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Killer at 12 Seeking Clemency in Florida

The boy, who is now 16, 'won't be in trouble again,' his attorney says. The teen is serving a life sentence for the 1999 death of a 6-year-old girl.

August 15, 2003|From Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A lawyer for a boy who killed at age 12 pleaded Thursday for a chance at clemency for his client, telling state officials: "He'll never be in trouble again."

Richard Rosenbaum made the appeal on behalf of the now-16-year-old killer, who was sentenced to life without parole for the 1999 death of 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick.

The boy's trial lawyer said the boy was imitating professional wrestlers, but Rosenbaum has disclaimed that account, saying the 160-pound boy accidentally killed the 50-pound girl by jumping on her.

Prosecutors argued the boy intentionally stomped, punched and kicked the girl.

Rosenbaum was seeking a waiver to let the teen seek clemency. The boy normally wouldn't be eligible for consideration yet because of the mandatory life sentence.

"His life is changed and he'll never be in trouble again," Rosenbaum told aides to Gov. Jeb Bush and state Cabinet members. The officials will make recommendations to the governor and Cabinet, who will decide whether to waive the clemency rules.

Bush has said he would want to review the teen's behavior. Two years ago, the governor refused to consider the boy's clemency application because of behavioral problems reported by prison officials.

He now lives in a maximum-security juvenile prison in Okeechobee.

An appeals court in West Palm Beach is scheduled to hear his case in September.

Among those who have urged clemency are ministers and members of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People.

Before the trial, prosecutors had offered the teen a three-year sentence plus 10 years probation if he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.

However, family members refused because they insisted he was not guilty.

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