- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2003

DELAND, Fla., Feb. 21 (UPI) — A 16-year-old boy could face as little as four months in prison on his manslaughter conviction in Deland, Fla., for the beating death of a 13-year-old at a skateboard park.

James Watson was convicted of punching Shane Farrell in the jaw and then fatally kicking him in the head after he fell.

He will receive the juvenile equivalent of sentencing March 13 before Circuit Judge James R. Clayton.

The maximum penalty would be confinement until he is 21 years old, if he is determined to be a "serious or habitual offender."

But his attorney, Raymond Warren, said he hopes the boy can go home in as little as four months.

"He's a respectful and polite young man with some emotional problems that hopefully can be helped with a treatment plan," Warren said.

Prosecutor Karen Foxman said Watson is a "violent offender" and showed it during the fight in Nov ember.

Watson, who has no record of violence, could also be eligible for three years in detention followed by two years of probation.

Warren defended a 17-year-old girl in 1999 who drove over three children, killing one and seriously injuring two others.

She was released after four months.

Foxman said that was a case of negligence not violence and as a result there was a difference. Warren said under the terms of the manslaughter conviction there is no difference.

Watson was initially charged as an adult with second-degree murder, which would have meant at least 10 years in prison if he was convicted.

The charge was later reduced to manslaughter and he was tried as a juvenile. If he is convicted he will held until he is 21 years old.

Both boys were the size of an adult. Farrell is 6 feet tall despite his age, and Watson is 5 foot 10 inches.

In a written confession, taken an hour after the fight, Watson said: "The fight started because the boy Shane was giving my 8-year-old brother ciggerets, and tried smoking marijuana with him. He also made my brother steel him cigars from a convenient store. When I saw him he immediately said he didn't do anything like that and I didn't know what I was talking about.

"Then I punched him in the jaw and kicked his head, when he fell. I kicked him with the side of my foot," the written confession said.

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