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13-year old to spend five years in juvie for murder

By AP/KWMU

St. Louis, MO – A slight, skinny boy was convicted Monday of the adult-size crime of murder and ordered to spend five years with Missouri's Division of Youth Services.

The boy, who cannot be identified because of his juvenile status, was convicted in juvenile court of second-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of his 13-year-old neighbor, Alexus Purtty, during a street fight in their northside St. Louis neighborhood on July 5. She died a few minutes after midnight July 6.

Family Court Judge Jimmie Edwards said the boy had had a tough life: He'd been neglected and abused, and surrendered to foster care at age 2, until his 60-year-old father, now sick from leukemia, won custody three years later.

"I understand you've been raising yourself a long time," Edwards told the youngster, who stood before the judge flanked by his attorney and father. "You're going to grow up, go to school, and try to be a good citizen.

"Now, go give your dad and sister a hug," he added.

The three collapsed into each others' arms and wept openly before the boy was led off by authorities.

Earlier Monday, Edwards ruled the boy would not be tried as an adult. He accepted the recommendation of a juvenile officer who cited the boy's young age, just 12 at the time he was accused, a lengthy child abuse and neglect history, and no prior juvenile offenses, along with a belief the boy could be helped by youth services.

The boy's attorney, Paul Sims, expressed relief the boy was convicted and sentenced as a juvenile, which he said would give him a "second chance" at life when he turns 18.

The boy, now 13, watched the court proceedings intently from a table he shared with Sims and his fragile and sick father.

Deputy juvenile officer Marianne Macke-Swier said the boy was "pretty bonded" with his father and was one of his many caretakers. Family and friends have told The Associated Press the boy's mother uses crack and is largely absent from the home.

911 tapes played in court showed that Alexus Purtty's mother, Alecia Kimble, made five calls to police the afternoon of the crime. In a calm, unemotional voice, she asked police to come get the boy she claimed had burglarized her house days before. In their response, police said they had canvassed the neighborhood but hadn't found the boy.

Family and neighbors later that night made panicked 911 calls to report a neighborhood melee resulting in the stabbing.

The state and defense painted very different pictures of what happened the night of the stabbing.

Alexus' 16-year-old aunt, Crystal Kimble, testified that the boy retrieved a knife from his house and stabbed Alexus after Crystal Kimble struck the boy's friend with a baseball bat.

She said a fight broke out after Alecia Kimble repeatedly told the boy and his friends not to walk in front of her house.

But defense witnesses said Alecia Kimble provoked the fight, chased the boy and his friend with a baseball bat, and challenged the boy to fight her daughter, and that the boy held the knife in self-defense. Taisha Bermudez testified he picked up the weapon after a friend of Kimble's flung it into the crowd, and that Kimble pushed her own daughter into the knife.

"A lot of people failed these children," Edwards said. "Nonetheless the act was inexcusable. ... At some point he'll grow up."

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