An 11-year-old Wisconsin boy who allegedly killed his mother by shooting her in the face after she refused to buy him a virtual reality headset on Amazon has been deemed competent to stand trial as an adult.
The child, whose identity is not being made public, underwent review by two psychologists before Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Jane Carroll rendered the decision to try him as an adult on Thursday. Notably, the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reported that the psychologists differed on whether the boy was truly competent or understood the nature of the crime or the charges against him.
His defense attorney told Carroll she did not believe the boy would be able to assist in the defense. The judge nonetheless deemed him prepared to stand trial as an adult, saying that the boy—who was 10 years old at the time of the November shooting—had not received a “major mental diagnosis” and had demonstrated an ability to comprehend and learn what was happening around him.
Fox News reported on Thursday that Milwaukee County prosecutor Sara Waldschmidt told the judge the child “knew his case was in adult court, that he knew his case was a felony, he knew that there were two types of cases—felonies and misdemeanors and he knew it was serious.”
Prosecutors say the boy’s mother, Quiana Mann, was doing laundry in her Wisconsin home when her son confronted her with a gun taken from a lockbox in the residence that he accessed with a key. The boy initially told authorities it was an accident and he only meant to scare his mother and shoot at the wall just behind her. Mann walked in front of the gun however and was shot in the face.
The shooting was originally ruled accidental but according to ABC’s WISN12, when police questioned the boy a second time, he said it wasn’t accidental. Instead, he told police he was angry with his mother that day because she woke him up early.
Police only questioned him a second time because Mann’s family members raised concerns with authorities that the boy had long-running rage issues and frequently acted out. They noted too that he had been undergoing therapy.
Just a day after Mann died, prosecutors say the boy purchased the virtual reality headset on his mother’s Amazon account, told his grandmother, “I’m sorry for killing my mom” and then asked whether his package had arrived.
Mann was on the cusp of completing her master’s degree in business at Concordia University before she was killed. Her mother, Lueritha Mann, accepted a posthumous degree on behalf of her daughter in May.
The tragedy has rocked the family and caused deep pain. In December, during an interview with Milwaukee NBC station WTMJ, Leuritha Mann said she had not yet talked to her grandson directly. She hoped to one day, she lamented, but couldn’t bring herself to do it.
“He took something very precious from me,” she said.
Mann’s sister, Rhonda Reid, told the station that when she spoke to the boy while he was in custody, he said he did not remember shooting his mother. He instead changed the subject of conversation to his devices.
Reid also emphasized that her nephew had a long history of mental health issues. When her sister was killed, she said in the December interview, her nephew had already been receiving treatment for mood disorders. She also said her nephew reported hearing multiple imaginary voices. Part of the solution prescribed to him by therapists was less time on electronic devices. Reid said her sister was doing what doctors recommended and limiting or removing his access to electronic devices or violent games.
The 11-year-old was charged this January with first-degree intentional homicide. He is next slated to appear in court on Sept. 5 for a preliminary hearing.
In Wisconsin, children as young as 10 can be charged as adults for certain severe crimes including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
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