August 31, 2012

Suspect's young age, 10, a Maine rarity

The chief state prosecutor says he doesn't recall such a serious charge against a child in his years of cases.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The state's chief prosecutor said Thursday that he doesn't remember a case in Maine in which a 10-year-old has been charged with a crime as serious as manslaughter.

Deputy Attorney General William Stokes has been prosecuting and overseeing the prosecution of criminal cases for 35 years. Never in his career has a child so young faced such a serious charge, he said.

The girl from Fairfield is charged with manslaughter in the death of 3-month-old Brooklyn Foss-Greenaway of Clinton on July 8.

Unlike murder, which is intentional, manslaughter is defined as recklessly or negligently causing the death of another person. For adults, a conviction for manslaughter could carry a prison term as long as 30 years.

A term that long is highly unlikely in a juvenile case.

Stokes, whose office will prosecute the case, said he could not comment on the circumstances. He did say that the state's Juvenile Court system aims to treat young offenders in a way that ensures they get the rehabilitation and help they need.

If convicted of manslaughter in Juvenile Court, the 10-year-old girl could be held in a juvenile detention facility until she turns 21.

In August 1993, a 10-year-old Biddeford girl admitted to setting a fire in a tenement building in Biddeford that killed a 2-year-old girl from Boston. Authorities considered charging the girl with homicide, but instead charged her with three counts of arson.

The girl was given counseling for her actions, according to Portland Press Herald archives.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau, the prosecutor for Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, has been in his job for 32 years. He recalls a 14-year-old boy being charged with murder in the shooting of his younger sister about 10 years ago in Lincoln County.

The case was adjudicated in Juvenile Court.

Referring to the Fairfield case, Rushlau said, "I don't remember anything like this."

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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