COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The murder conviction of a 14-year-old boy who was tried in adult court has been vacated.
The case surrounds a 14-year-old boy who was convicted in 2017 in the killing of his father’s girlfriend Heidi Taylor. The boy claimed that he had a second personality “Jeff the Killer” and that personality took over to stab and shoot Taylor to death.
The killing happened in Champaign County.
The case was moved from juvenile court to adult court under opposition from the boys’ attorney, who said that the prosecutor did not prove the need to transfer the case to adult court.
The prosecutor said that the case was not “amendable to care or rehabilitation within the juvenile system.”
Writing for the Court majority, Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor stated the juvenile court’s decision to transfer the case was based on a mischaracterization of the testimony presented by a court-appointed psychologist and an Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) official.
“Here, the juvenile court’s decision that Nicholas is not amenable to treatment and rehabilitation in the juvenile system was based on a perception that DYS lacks the necessary resources to treat Nicholas’s mental illness — a perception that is not only unsupported by the record but that is, in fact, contrary to the reality established by the record,” she wrote.
The court’s decision came down 4-3 with a dissenting opinion from Justice Sharon Kennedy who wrote that the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case rested on other factors and not on whether the juvenile court abused its discretion by moving the case. She called the decision an overreach by the panel.
The decision reversed the Second District Court of Appeals, which had affirmed the boy’s conviction and the sentence of life in prison with parole eligibility in 25 years.