The seventeen-year-old Jacksonville girl accused of leaving her newborn child in a garbage dumpster last month was back in court this morning.
The girl was charged with attempted first degree murder, a felony, in Morgan County Juvenile Court last Monday after the baby boy was found in a dumpster in the 300 block of West Lafayette on August 30th. She denied the charges this morning, which is the juvenile version of pleading not guilty.
Morgan County Assistant State’s Attorney Chad Turner filed a motion last week to designate the case as “extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution.”
If the girl is found guilty in that scenario, she’d be given a juvenile court sentence and an adult sentence simultaneously. That means the adult sentence would be stayed while the juvie sentence is performed, and if the girl were to successfully complete it, the adult sentence would be vacated.
If the girl were sentenced as a juvenile and failed to satisfy the terms, she could face up to 30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
“It’s a fairly rare circumstance that a motion of that nature would be filed, but when a minor is accused of certain crimes and that minor is over the age of 13, and the crimes are of a felony nature, we can ask that the prosecution be designated extended jurisdiction juvenile proceeding,” explains Turner “It’s kind of an intermediate step between juvenile court and adult court.”
Turner says the facts of the case at this point don’t meet the criteria by law to justify trying the girl as an adult, and that the judge in the case would have to approve the transfer in the interest of public protection.
“Obviously at one point in time, we were alleging that she was a significant threat to this newborn baby, but we don’t have any evidence that she’s any threat to anyone going forward,” says Turner.
“Juvenile court and adult court have very different purposes. In juvenile court, the emphasis is on protecting the minor and doing what’s in the minor’s best interest and rehabilitation. In adult court, other factors come in to play, such as punishment and things of that nature, and really, those are not considered in juvenile court. If we thought that was necessary to protect the public from this young woman, we would move to transfer to adult court,” he continues.
Turner explains that if the girl is found guilty or pleads guilty, she’d be given a juvenile sentence that could include serving time in the Department of Juvenile Justice up to the age of 21, 30 days in a juvie detention facility, no more than five years of probation or conditional discharge, and 30 days of community service.
“It’s a little different in juvenile corrections. Basically, the Department of [Juvenile] Corrections is given the authority to release a minor at any time when they think they’re ready, basically, to be released back into the community, but in no case can it extend past their 21st birthday,” he says.
When asked if the police investigation is complete and therefore there’s no chance of the girl ever being charged as an adult, Turner said, “No, the police investigation is not complete. There are certain things that they are doing.”
The girl, whose name is not being made publicly available because she’s not being charged as an adult, is in home confinement with her mother, who was present in court yesterday as well. The juvenile was allowed earlier this month to continue working her part-time job and going to school at Jacksonville High School.
A hearing for a request to make a motion to designate the case for extended juvenile jurisdiction is set for October 9th. Turner explains that the girl can request a jury trial if the motion is granted.
The girl is now being represented by public defender Anne Clough. She had different representation earlier this month.