CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said she will make the decision within the next 30 days whether or not to charge two teenagers as adults in the murder of a man who was walking with his wife in downtown Charleston.
On Friday night, the Charleston Police Department announced the arrest of 15-year-old and 16-year-old boys charged in the homicide of of 63-year-old Tom DiLorenzo.
DiLorenzo was walking with his wife, Suzanne Austin, along King Street early Friday morning when police say the teens attempted to rob them then fatally shot DiLorenzo. Austin, who was uninjured, is the provost and Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs at the College of Charleston.
Wilson said on Monday afternoon, at this point, she has not decided yet if the two teenagers will be tried as adults.
She said that within the next 30 days she will decide whether or not to ask family court to waive jurisdiction so that the teenagers may be prosecuted as adults after gathering information about them and the crime itself.
Wilson outlined the process regarding juvenile suspects in a statement released on Monday:
Violence in our community is unacceptable regardless of who is involved. We must handle violent offenders in ways that best protect our community and in ways that make it clear that we, as a community, will not tolerate such lawlessness. We must also be thoughtful and fair in handling all offenders, even those charged with committing heinous offenses.
Over the weekend, two juveniles were charged with murder. Because of their ages, the charges were brought in the family court. Pursuant to South Carolina law, information and records regarding juveniles cannot be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone (unless otherwise ordered by a court). Like all criminal defendants who face criminal charges, they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The family court may waive jurisdiction to general sessions court for a child of any age who is charged with Murder. It is my duty to determine if the State should seek a waiver from the family court. If I elect to request such a waiver, the next step in the process is a pre-waiver evaluation that is conducted by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The evaluation would provide a social history of the child as well as a psychological evaluation. The report would likely draw conclusions regarding the sophistication and maturity of the child along with the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation; adequate protection of the public; and procedures, services, and facilities currently available through DJJ which could benefit the child.
After the evaluation is complete, the next step in the process would be for the family court hold a waiver hearing addressing two things: (1) probable cause to believe the juvenile committed the crime charged; and (2) statutory factors relating to the juvenile’s amenability to rehabilitation. South Carolina law requires the family court judge to consider these eight factors:
- The seriousness of the alleged offense to the community and whether the protection of the community requires waiver;
- Whether the alleged offense was committed in an aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner;
- Whether the alleged offense was against persons or against property, greater weight being given to offenses against persons, especially if injury resulted;
- The merit of prosecuting the complaint, i.e., whether there is evidence upon which a grand jury may be expected to return an indictment;
- The desirability of trial and disposition of the entire offense in one court when the child’s co-defendants are adults;
- The sophistication and maturity of the child as determined by consideration of his home, environmental situation, emotional attitude and living pattern;
- The child’s prior record and involvement with the juvenile justice system; and
- The prospects for adequate protection of the public and the likelihood of reasonable rehabilitation of the child by the use of procedures, services and facilities currently available to the family court.
Within the next 30 days, after gathering information about the defendants and about the crime itself, I will decide whether or not to ask the family court to waive jurisdiction so that the defendants may be prosecuted as adults in general sessions court. If I pursue a waiver to general sessions court, I may elect to withdraw my request if we receive information that shows the waiver would not be appropriate under all of the circumstances.