PONTIAC, Mich. -- Regardless of his youth, 13-year-old Nathaniel Abraham should be convicted of first-degree murder because his actions caused another young man to lose his life, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Nathaniel was 11 when he fired a shot from a 30-year-old rifle that struck and killed 18-year-old Ronnie Greene Jr. of Pontiac in October 1997.He is being tried as an adult and is one of the nation's youngest murder defendants.
"If we look at the actions, if we realize a life was lost, and that it was intentionally taken from him . . . do we ignore those facts and the law simply because of the age of the person who intentionally took that life?" prosecutor Lisa Halushka said Wednesday in closing arguments.
Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger, in his closing argument, accused the prosecution of twisting the evidence to justify an adult first-degree murder case against his client.
"It's quite clear it's a terrible accident, and then I said, 'Oh my god. Oh my god. What have they done, what have they done?"' Fieger said, speaking in a near-whisper. "I assumed they would never try to falsely accuse a little boy of doing something."
The youth is also charged with assault with intent to commit murder and two felony firearms counts. If convicted, Nathaniel could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, to juvenile detention until he becomes an adult or to a blended sentence in which his record would be re-examined when he turns 21 to see if he should be freed or held.
Prosecutors have argued the boy told a girlfriend he was going to shoot someone, did so and then bragged about it.
Defense lawyers have argued Nathaniel did not know Greene and had no intention or motive to shoot him. They also produced three psychologists who testified that Nathaniel had limited powers of reasoning and the ability to understand the consequences of his actions.
Fieger has insisted that because of the boy's age and emotional and intellectual problems he should not be held to an adult standard of responsibility.
"Would you want a group of 11-year-olds sitting on this jury? Deciding legal issues like intent?" Fieger said. "It would be absurd.