Suspect's Mother Apologizes to DART Slaying Victim's Mother

Prosecutor says jury could sympathize with suspects when case goes to trial

By Ray Villeda
|  Thursday, Dec 1, 2011  |  Updated 6:27 PM CDT
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The mother of one of the kids accused of pushing Octavius Lanier at the MLK DART station made an emotional apology during his funeral.

Amanda Guerra, NBC 5 News

The mother of one of the kids accused of pushing Octavius Lanier at the MLK DART station made an emotional apology during his funeral.

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The mother of a suspect in the slaying of a 19-year-old at a Dallas Area Rapid Transit station apologized to the victim's mother at his funeral Thursday.

Octavius Lanier died after four boys ages 12 to 14 attacked him at the MLK Station located south of Fair Park last week.

The mother of the suspects hugged Lanier's mother at the funeral and told her: "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

Family and friends fought through tears and pain at the funeral.

"He was a loving and hard-working person," one person said. "Anytime you were down, he would make you feel like you were special."

A 12-year-old and three 14-year-olds are charged in Lanier's death. All face capital murder charges.

One of the prosecutors, Assistant District Attorney Durran Hill, said it’s not an easy case to stomach.

He and legal experts agree that jurors would sympathize with the suspects if this case goes to trial.

“When a jury looks over and sees someone 4 feet tall -- and some kids can look, even if [they] 12 or 13, look 8 or 9 -- does play a sympathy role as far as jury is concerned,” Hill said.

The suspects are being held at Wade Juvenile Justice Center.

They are accused of pushing Lanier into a moving train that then dragged him. Lanier died at a Dallas hospital.

Mike Price, a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with juvenile cases, said the case would be easier to prosecute if the attack was caught on tape.

The tough part will be punishing the children, he said.

“If you have a 12-year-old who's never been in trouble before, should he be sent off to prison for 40 years?" he said. "There are other options. [The] jury could give him probation."

The three 14-year-olds could be certified as adults, meaning they could be tried as adults.

A judge would look over several factors, such as their home and school life and criminal background to make that decision.

Hill said it’s definitely being considered.

The suspects could face life in prison if convicted. They are too young to be put to death.

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