Why a Dallas Judge Made the Rare Decision to Have a 16-year-old Tried as an Adult in Rape, Murder Case

Dallas County Juvenile Judge Andrea Martin Lane prefers to rehabilitate teens who come through her courtroom rather than put them through the adult system.“I don’t usually certify,” Martin Lane said on Wednesday following the hearing. “If there is a chance, then I’m most likely going to give them a chance.”But in 16-year-old Lenario Washington’s case last week, she made an exception because, she said, the “public was indeed in need of protection.”The judge’s ruling means Washington will stand trial as an adult after police say he raped several women and killed 23-year-old Maria Ezquerro in her Far North Dallas apartment.Experts say such adult certifications are generally uncommon, especially as the juvenile courts system focuses on rehabilitating youth instead of incarcerating them.According to statewide data, juvenile courts certified 155 minors as adults in 2017 — the most recent data available. That’s a slight decrease over time from the 212 the courts certified as adults in 2007. According to Kim Leach, a spokeswoman for the Dallas County district attorney’s office, Dallas County certified only 28 teenagers as adults in 2018.  Continue reading...

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