- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 20, 2005

BALTIMORE (AP) — A teenager who admitted killing a man when he was 13 has been sentenced to seven years in a juvenile-detention facility until he turns 21.

The youth, now 14, was Baltimore’s youngest murder suspect.

He admitted to the fatal shooting of a 23-year-old man in a public-housing project in June.

The youth smiled at a fellow defendant Monday as he entered the chambers of Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Clifton J. Gordy at the Juvenile Justice Center. He showed no emotion during the hearing, uttering “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to the judge’s questions.

Judge Gordy ordered that the youth be placed in a juvenile facility in Buhl, Minn., or in Memphis, Tenn., or an equivalent facility.

The youth stared blankly as the victim’s mother spoke about the pain she has endured since her only son, Jerrod Hamlett, was fatally shot June 25, leaving behind a now 3-year-old son.

“How can you explain to a baby?” Julis Hamlett said between sobs. “I can’t go get [his father], and he asks me this all the time.”

As she spoke, the youth’s mother wiped away tears.

Prosecutors said the youth shot Mr. Hamlett four times over an argument about thrown bottles.

Had he been 14 at the time of the shooting, the boy would have been charged as an adult and faced charges that could have sent him to prison for life.

In a hearing last month, Judge Gordy declined to transfer the case to adult court.

At that hearing, it was revealed that the juvenile had been arrested six times in 18 months and was on probation for two previous assaults.

The boy’s attorney, Rodney Gray, said Minnesota’s Kids- Peace Mesabi Academy and Tennessee’s Shelby Training Center have space for his client.

Mr. Gray said even though the boy did not address the victim’s family in court, he has expressed remorse.

“What he wants is to get this case over with and to move on,” Mr. Gray said. “He and his mom are satisfied with his being treated as a juvenile. It gives this kid some opportunity for a life as an adult.”

But Mr. Hamlett’s family said they were angry that the boy would receive light punishment.

“It’s ridiculous, the injustice,” said Raquel Hamlett, 17, the victim’s sister. “This was not self-defense. It was premeditated murder. He wanted to do it. He wanted to be a man and carry and shoot a gun, so why didn’t they charge him as a man?”

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