State files to certify Dollar General murder suspect as an adult

Juvenile prosecutors plan to take steps to try the 15-year-old accused of murdering a Dollar General clerk as an adult for the crime.

The state has filed to certify the 15-year-old suspect as an adult to be tried for the murder of a Dallas mother of six.

The Thursday hearing was short. The teen was not in court. But if he is certified as an adult, the crime he is accused of is a capital offense.

“What happened today is I was handed all of this the discovery on the case,” explained George Ashford, the juvenile attorney representing the 15-year-old.

The case is the murder of Dollar General store clerk Gabrielle Simmons during a botched robbery attempted. The murder was caught on tape with the 15-year-old behind the gun.

The state on the record has filed a petition to have the teen certified to stand trial as an adult. The teen's lawyer says it’s a bad idea.

“My general approach is there's hardly any situation where it would not be better for a child to stay in the juvenile system,” Ashford said.

Attorney Remeko Edwards practices both adult and juvenile criminal law. She is not involved in the case.

“We're talking about somebody’s life was taken, and we’re talking about a child,” Edwards said. “So we have a lot of factors to be considered, but we have to protect the community at the same time.”

The videotape is the tangible evidence of the crime. It'll be considered along with other factors in deciding if the minor will face charges like a man.

“They look at the rehabilitation efforts that have been given to the child prior to this incident,” Edwards said. “From my understanding, he had a criminal record prior to this. So the state looks into that. They look into the maturity of the child. They look into the best interest of the community.”

Prosecutors will present their case plus psychological tests on the 15-year-old and past bad behavior. The judge will ultimately decide if the teen will be treated as a child or if the consequences of bad decisions will force him to be tried as an adult.

“I would prefer and I think it’s best in most cases for the juvenile to stay here,” Ashford said. “Sometimes we can make that happen, and sometimes we can’t.”

If the teen is certified to stand trial as an adult and found guilty, he would face life in prison. At his age, capital punishment would not be an option.

The next court date will be early next year.

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