- Associated Press - Friday, October 9, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - A 16-year-old charged along with his older brother in the stabbing deaths of his parents and three siblings asked a judge Friday to consider certifying him as a youthful offender or juvenile delinquent instead of an adult under Oklahoma law.

Michael Bever and his 18-year-old brother, Robert Bever, were charged with first-degree murder in the gruesome killings and both are being tried as adults.

Attorney Rob Nigh argued in Tulsa district court that Michael Bever should be allowed to present evidence that he be tried as a juvenile. Not allowing that would violate his right to “due process,” Nigh said.

Nigh also said the state’s juvenile code allows courts several options to balance a child’s rehabilitation along with protecting the public. When he turns 18 1/2, a court could transfer him to the Department of Corrections for prison, grant probation or release the delinquent from custody. The maximum sentence facing the younger brother if he is convicted of first-degree murder as an adult is life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to prosecutors.

Special Judge Martha Rupp Carter heard the argument, asked a few questions and said she would rule on juvenile status Monday.

The Bever brothers, who have pleaded not guilty, did not appear in court for the hearing.

They are accused of killing their father David Bever and mother, April, along with siblings, Daniel, Christopher and Victoria. Authorities haven’t spoken about a motive in the case, but released documents suggesting one of the brothers told police that plans for the killing were on a thumb drive inside the family’s Broken Arrow home.

Two family members survived the July 22 attack and one of them, a teenage girl, plans to testify for the prosecution at the brothers’ preliminary hearing, which was rescheduled until Jan. 22. Neither brother was brought into the courtroom for Friday’s hearings.

Nigh told the judge that he’d be prepared to present to the court a psychological examination of Michael Bever, and told the court that because of the nature of the crime, there was “clearly a disconnection from reality.”

“The only conclusion that can be made is there was something tremendously wrong in that household,” Nigh said. “There had to be severe mental health issues indeed if these actions were taken.”

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler disagreed with Nigh’s argument, and said evidence he’s collected so far indicates “what Michael Bever chose to do in July put him in a position of being an adult … because he made adult decisions on that fateful day.

“What went wrong was that Michael and Robert conspired with each other to slaughter five of their family members. They tried to kill a sixth (family member). That’s what was wrong in the house,” Kunzweiler said.

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