STATEHOUSE (Jan. 15, 2019) – State Sen. Erin Houchin (R-Salem) announced today that her legislation, Senate Bill 279, which would change when a youth could be tried in adult court, unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Corrections and Criminal Law.
Senate Bill 279 would allow court proceedings for juveniles charged with murder or attempted murder to be waived to adult court if the child is at least 12 years of age and there is probable cause to believe the child committed the act. Proceedings would be allowed to remain in juvenile court in certain instances where it is determined to be in the best interest of the child and safety of the community to do so.
“In May of 2018, our state experienced a nightmare event when a 13-year-old tragically shot a classmate and teacher at Noblesville West Middle School, causing unimaginable pain to two individuals, their families and an entire community,” Houchin said. “While these individuals thankfully and miraculously survived, they will be forever left with the scars and memories of this heinous act.”
Currently, Indiana law only allows prosecutors to charge juveniles in adult court for murder – not attempted murder. The Noblesville school shooter admitted his guilt and was ordered to a juvenile detention facility until his 18th birthday, although he may be released sooner by the Indiana Department of Correction.
“This juvenile perpetrator was unsuccessful by the grace of God and the heroism of a teacher. Because of this, the perpetrator will be released into society in the coming years,” Houchin said. “It is unfortunate that justice in this case will never be fully served, and it is clear we must close this loophole in Indiana law.”
Both Noblesville shooting survivor Jason Seaman, who is a teacher at Noblesville West Middle School, and Cory Whistler, father of Noblesville shooting survivor Ella Whistler, testified in support of Senate Bill 279 during the committee meeting. SB 279 will now be considered by the full Senate.
For a high-resolution photo of Houchin, click here.