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Thursday, March 18, 2010

13 years old boy could get 21 years in US jail

He is the youngest person to be accused of robbing a bank that many in this midwestern US town can remember, and now he could end up spending a good chunk of his life behind bars.

A judge in the juvenile court, noting the premeditation and the “extremely aggressive” manner in which Denote Moore, 13, pointed an unloaded handgun at several bank tellers last month, ordered his case be moved to adult court.

The mid-day heist on April 13 shocked many in this Rust Belt city.

Sheriff Michael McCoy said Moore was the youngest person to be arrested for bank robbery in his 37 years on the force. A prosecutor said he could not remember another such case in his 19 years of work.

The move means a potential prison sentence for Moore of 21 to 45 years.

Had the case remained in the juvenile courts, Moore’s imprisonment would have ended on his 21st birthday.

The robbery occurred at about 11:35 am.

Moore was arrested within 30 minutes after hiding in a garage only a few blocks away from the bank. His clothing was stained red from a dye pack that had exploded in the pillow case where tellers had put the money.

Moore told police he thought he had been shot, hearing the pop and seeing a big puff of red smoke.

The teen told police he had run away from home a month earlier and was stealing to get money for “clothing and stuff.”

Illinois law allows a juvenile to be tried as an adult if he or she is older than 13 and a judge finds “it is not in the best interest of the public” for the minor to remain in the juvenile justice system. Moore will turn 14 next month.

The judge, noting Moore was on probation and failed to comply with counseling and missed several appointments with his probation officer, found the boy to be a poor candidate to work with officials further.

An estimated 200,000 juveniles are tried, sentenced or incarcerated as adults every year in the United States, according to the Campaign for Youth Justice.

An average of 7,500 juveniles are incarcerated in adult jails at any given time and 40 states allow youths charged as adults to be held in adult jails while they wait for their case to be heard.

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