Shaloh Joseph Case: An Update

Last week I posted on a story out of Florida about a 12-year-old boy facing adult charges and a mandatory sentence of life without parole for fatally beating 17-month-old Shaloh Joseph, his cousin. Yesterday the Miami Herald filed an update providing background on the boy’s troubled family history and exploring the challenges of moving forward on this case.

The article states that the boy told a child abuse investigator he hit the toddler with “his fingers and hand,” not with a baseball bat as alleged, because she did “bad things” to him to get him in trouble with the adults in his family. The boy explained he “had to baby-sit both the toddler and his 10-year-old brother for about 12 hours each day while his mother and the toddler’s parents went to work during the winter break from school.” (Whether the children were properly supervised during the Christmas holidays is at the center of the state’s Department of Children and Families investigation.)

Prosecutors have not yet decided whether to try him as a juvenile or as an adult. A few points seem worth noting here: Shaloh’s parents do not want him charged as an adult; the boy’s testimony is clearly contradictory and arguably inadmissible (he originally confessed to using a bat but now denies it, saying he was tricked by the police); and as his lawyer Sandra Perlman, a public defender, points out, “The law says that it is questionable whether a 12-year-old has the mental capacity to waive Miranda rights, or even to give a statement to police.”

I hope that prosecutors at the state attorney’s office weigh these issues carefully as they decide where to try the boy. This is a high-stakes case, with much public attention focused on it, and I expect that the circumstances surrounding the incident and the boy’s confession, along with the long-term prospects for his protection, education and well-being, will all be given proper consideration when deciding the consequences for his actions.

On that note, the Miami Herald has published several letters from prominent community leaders urging the state attorney’s office to stick to juvenile court. Read the PDFs here.

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3 responses to “Shaloh Joseph Case: An Update

  1. This is a difficult situation to deal with. However, the baby deserves some kind of justice. Certainly, at 10 I knew violence was not acceptable and if I hurt someone or an animal I would be in trouble. This boy knew he was intentionally hurting a toddler, a baby! On the other hand, being forced to babysit your kids at his young age must of been stressful and unfair for him. I feel he should be charged as a juvenile and the adults who put him in charge of babysitting should be arrested for the baby’s death. Funny how the parents don’t want anyone to pay any reprocussions, BECAUSE THEY PUT THAT BOY IN THAT SITUATION, THEY KNOW THEY BROKE THE LAW! Lock them up! How dare them, it’s like her life was a mere accident, oh well, she’s gone now, right? Too cheap to afford a real babysitter? Can’t afford it? Get out of here with that sh*t! People who are lazy, irresponsible and whose direct negligence results in death, should be prosecuted…

  2. I don’t know if Florida is one of the states, like my home state of Colorado that allows the Prosecutor discretion to direct file this case in adult court. I hope not. There obviously must be consequences associated with the actions of the 12 year old. If he is tried as a juvenile, at least there is some possibility of that. Mandatory LWOP for juveniles poses another problem. I personally feel like it should be eliminated in every state. Unfortunately, there are over 2,200 kids serving LWOP across the country. Thanks for posting about this case. I will be keeping my eye on it. I’ve also linked to your blog. Please keep up the good work.

  3. im was great frineds with him and its just soo sad too see that he did this. he was a good person i would have never thought he could something like this i hope oneday we will meet again.

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