Appeals court affirms ruling involving juvenile accused of murder in Christa Shockley’s death


Last week the Arkansas Court of Appeals appointed a Miller County circuit court’s designation of Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction for a juvenile accused of shooting a Fouke, Ark., convenience store clerk in the early hours of Feb. 2, 2017.

The boy was 12 when he allegedly entered the store at about 2 a.m. with a white bandana covering his face. An hour earlier the boy had reportedly visited the EZ Mart with his face uncovered but wore the same clothing and carried the same backpack as when he returned, according to witness testimony cited in appellate court filings in the case.
The boy allegedly fired a total of eight rounds as he advanced toward Shockley who had been cleaning canisters for tea. The killer left the store but returned a few minutes later. The shooter walked around Shockley’s body and took a pack of electronic cigarettes and a headset before leaving the store.
A Miller County Sheriff’s Office investigator who’d recently had contact with the boy and his family testified at a hearing in August that he recognized the boy’s face in surveillance video. A red hoodie worn by the shooter, the pistol and magazine were found in a brushy area behind the store. The stolen headset was found in the juvenile’s backpack. Investigators determined the gun belonged to the boy’s father and was missing from its usual storage spot in his shed.
The accused boy was arrested on the campus of a Fouke public school later that morning.
According to a brief filed by the boy’s attorneys, he suffers from mild autism and was physically abused by his biological mother as a child.
Experts testified that the boy exhibits violent and anti-social behavior including assaults on fellow students, teachers and school staff from a young age. An example of the boy’s unusual behavior includes an incident with Lego building blocks. The boy allegedly surrounded a female Lego figure with red Legos to represent her blood in a murder scene.
Staff at the juvenile detention facility in Miller County testified that the boy is prone to violence. Numerous incidences of the youngster attacking other juveniles in the facility without provocation are mentioned in the court documents. Attacks on staff and verbal threats to kill staff and stand over them while they “take their last breath” are described.
While in detention, the boy allegedly fashioned a comb into a knife.
In October, Circuit Judge Kirk Johnson granted a request from the state for Extended Juvenile Jurisdiction in the case. The boy is too young to be certified to stand trial as an adult in Arkansas. The EJJ designation allows the court to keep a juvenile behind bars past their 18th and 21st birthdays.
Now that the boy’s appeal of his EJJ designation has been affirmed by the appellate court, the boy may be scheduled for a trial in Miller County. Juvenile cases are tried to a judge not a jury. If found guilty of murder in Shockley’s death, the boy could be sentenced to 10 to 40 years or life in prison with parole possible.
In the year before an EJJ defendant turns 21, the court may conduct a hearing to determine if they should be held in adult prison.
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