Youths charged in fatal shooting might stand trial as adults

Wednesday, February 18, 2009 | 4:41 p.m. CST; updated 8:20 p.m. CST, Wednesday, February 18, 2009

COLUMBIA – Both youths charged in connection with the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Ronald Cornell Brown waived their right to a detention hearing Wednesday in juvenile court — one in person and another through his attorney and parents.

Juvenile officers will now investigate the question of whether the youths, both 16, should stand trial as adults. Their recommendation will be handed over to Division VII Associate Circuit Judge Cary Augustine on April 13.

Both — referred to as N.W. and B.E. in court documents — are charged with first- degree attempted robbery and second-degree murder. According to the probable cause statement, B.E. is suspected of having fired a weapon at Brown. He faces an additional charge of armed criminal action, a felony. The Missourian does not identify juveniles charged with crimes until they are certified to stand trial as adults.

Brown was found behind the Ballenger Liquor and C-Store with a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen-pelvic area. He was later pronounced dead at University Hospital.

Only N.W. appeared in court because B.E. is in a hospital for reasons unrelated to the incident.

Columbia Police Capt. Stephen Monticelli said that when B.E. was handed over to the Robert L. Perry Juvenile Justice Center, he was not injured in any way. But neither police nor juvenile authorities would say how he was injured.

His parents, who live in Columbia, were in court Wednesday morning but declined to talk about their son.

Rick Gaines, the juvenile officer whose office will conduct the investigations, said the results will help him write a recommendation to the courts. It will then be up to the courts to decide whether to keep the two youths in the juvenile system or try them as adults.

According to Gaines, investigators will look at criteria such as the suspects' criminal history and their present offenses to make the recommendation. According to a news release from the court, this is the first offense for N.W. and B.E. has a prior offense.

“It is very rare for a homicide case to stay in juvenile court, but it is determined case by case,” Gaines said.

Gaines said the investigation should take 30 days but could take longer.

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