Younger Bever Will Be Tried as an Adult
Tulsa Special District Court Judge Martha Rupp Carter rules 16-year-old Michael Bever will be tried as an adult.
Bever's public defender, Rob Nigh, had filed a motion seeking to have the teen declared a youthful or juvenile offender. The judge took the weekend and issued her ruling this morning.
Nigh said all he’s looking for is a hearing to assess whether Bever could be rehabilitated through Oklahoma’s juvenile system.
"The statute as it presently reads prevents us from seeking even a hearing, and that’s the part we believe to be unconstitutional," Nigh said.
Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said he’s confident after appeals to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court, Bever will be standing trial as an adult.
"Our case law is pretty consistent that the legislature can determine what a crime is and what the appropriate punishment is," Kunzweiler said.
Kunzweiler added he has no latitude in these matters under state law.
"If you’re 15, 16 or 17 and I charge you with murder in the first degree, you’re going to be charged as an adult," Kunzweiler said. "And so, that’s not anything that I can say, 'Well, today I choose to do something different.'"
Nigh is focusing his efforts on brain development, which continues well into a person’s twenties.
"But the clear evidence from the medical community is that the frontal lobe is not fully developed in a 16-year-old," Nigh said. "There are significant brain differences between a child and an adult."
Bever and his 18-year-old brother, Robert, are charged with five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the July murders of his parents and three siblings at their Broken Arrow home. The preliminary hearing for the brothers will begin Jan 22.