BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The attorney for 14-year-old Jean Sanchez wanted his murder case tried in family court.
He is charged with sexually abusing and then strangling 13-year-old Ameer Al Shammari, an Iraqi immigrant, last May.
Erie County Court Justice Sheila DiTullio ruled that Sanchez, even though he is a juvenile, will be tried in adult criminal court. She also sited his behavior as he awaits trial.
“While the defendant was remanded to the Youth Detention Center pending trial, he has repeatedly engaged in acts of violence and aggression,” she said from the bench.
Ameer’s body had been found in a field off of Amherst Street in Buffalo. He was reportedly murdered for his cell phone.
Sanchez’s attorney Paul Dell argued that his client’s brain as a 13-year-old, at the time of the murder, was not fully developed.
“We know a lot more about the development of the brain right now and that the law, it’s antiquated, and that it doesn’t match science,” he said.
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita said there’s no question as to if Sanchez knew right from wrong.
“Just about every 13-year-old, 14-year-old, fifteen, 16-year-old, by that age, knows that there are certain things you don’t do,” he said. “You don’t rape people. You don’t burn people’s houses down. You certainly don’t sodomize them and strangle them to death.”
Defense Attorney Dell says he will now try to get incriminating statements that Sanchez made to authorities thrown out as evidence.
“He was illegally detained. He was walked down there by his family and then he was removed from his parents for several hours,” Dells said.
Sanchez will be entitled to a hearing to determine the issue, but Sedita said they’ll defend their actions.
“We believe that those statements were taken properly under both the federal and state constitution,” he said.
The hearing will be held in June.