NAPLES, Fla. - The Golden Gate Estates 14-year-old accused of killing his parents in their bedroom Thursday morning made his first appearance in a Collier County courtroom today.
Alexander Thomas Crain is facing Second Degree Murder charges in connection to the shooting deaths of his mother and father, Thomas & Kelly Crain.
Prosecutors aren't saying whether they will pursue adult charges against the boy, though experts suspect they may.
"The first thing any prosecutor is going to look for is malice," Ft. Myers attorney Joe Viacava told WINK News today. Viacava has represented juveniles charged as adults in other cases. He does not represent Alex Crain.
Viacava says intent, motive and mental state are key to helping prosecutors determine whether a child should be charged as an adult.
State law allows anybody 14 and older to be charged, tried, and convicted as an adult if prosecutors determine the nature of the crime and the history of the suspect require stronger punishment.
Viacava says the juvenile courts work more to rehabilitate minors, whereas serious or repeat offenders may require a harsher punishment.
"There are certain crimes... [that], quite frankly, the juvenile system is not capable of taking care of," Viacava said.
If charged as an adult, Crain would have the opportunity for a trial by jury. Viacava says cases in the juvenile court system are tried in front of a judge only.
Viacava says a jury trial could benefit Crain's defense. But he says if Crain was convicted as an adult, he could face 25 years to life in prison.
"It's a tragedy of such magnitude... there are no winners," Viacava said. "I would caution others to keep judgment to a minimum until all the evidence comes out."
Prosecutors are expected to make their decision before the end of the month.