LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A judge determined the 13-year-old accused of killing a homeless man in Cape Coral earlier this month should be held without bond, during his first appearance this morning.
Yoel Munoz has no criminal history, but is accused of stabbing 51-year-old Thomas Bergstrom to death at a homeless camp off Pine Island Road.
Munoz was initially sent to a juvenile detention center, but is now being charged as an adult. A grand jury indicted him Wednesday. Munoz is one of the youngest people in Lee County history to be indicted as an adult for murder.
He is facing charges of premidated first degree murder and burglary while armed.
His attorney Ian Mann says, "we were hopeful that the state at least give some thought or delay the decision (to charge him as an adult). We had in fact offered and had discussions with the state attorney's office about waiving the normal 21 day release requirement in juvenile court, we had offered that on the record in juvenile court 3 days ago. The state has their reasons, at this point they have more information than we do."
Mann adds, "It's a conversation with a 13-year-old boy, there's a lot of explaining going on and I'm not certain that he's fully grasping everything that's happening. I think he was as prepared as any 13-year-old can be to be charged with first degree murder."
Fort Myers attorney Joe Viacava says you normally don't see someone that young tried as an adult, since Florida state law says they must be 14.
"It's very unusual that a child that young would be sentenced to what an adult would do, and basically to a life sentence unless the crime is that horrible," Viacava said.
Viacava says being tried as an adult does have its advantages.
"You don't have the judge making the decisions. Juvenile trials are bench trials, meaning there's no jury. So you have the benefit of arguing this (case) to 6 people rather than one person."
Munoz's family told WINK News in early August that he is innocent.
He could 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole if he's convicted.