Juvenile Should not be Prosecuted

7-year-old with knife did not mean to harm classmate claims Attorney William Moore

By Macollvie Jean-François |South Florida Sun-Sentinel

4:59 PM EST, December 15,

FORT LAUDERDALE - A first-grader who police said robbed a classmate at knifepoint should not be prosecuted, because he and the other child were simply playing, the boy's attorney said.

Attorney William Moore, his 7-year-old client and the boy's mother met with Broward School District officials today to discuss the Nov. 26 incident at Pines Lakes Elementary.

Moore said the boy should not be prosecuted because he did not knowingly scare his 6-year-old classmate into giving him a dollar.

"Everything is pointing to this being more play than an actual crime," Moore said, after meeting with at the Lanier-James Educational Center in Hallandale Beach, where the boy is attending school. "Cleary this thing's just been way blown out of proportion."

School district officials suspended the 7-year-old from Pines Lakes Elementary after the younger child told his mother and school officials the older boy had robbed him of a $1, using a kitchen knife. The 6-year-old also suffered a nose bleed during the incident, which occurred Nov. 26 in the school bathroom.

A third child, 7, also was present during the incident, according to police. Both he and the younger child told police the knife-wielding boy said he would bring his father's gun to school and shoot them if they mentioned the robbery to anyone.

Police said the statments of all three children were inconsistent. They plan to turn over all reports to the State Attorney's Office to determine whether the boy should be charged.

The Sun Sentinel is withholding the identities of the boy and his mother because he is a minor.

Moore said his client had a plastic butter knife found in a fast-food bag. Without his mother's knowledge, the boy stuck the knife in his cargo pants on his way to school and he used the utensil to eat turkey at lunchtime, he said.

That Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the boy and two of his classmates played as normal, Moore said. During lunch, two of the boys bought ice cream. The 6-year-old did not.

The boys went into the bathroom, as the school requires them to go in pairs or groups for safety reasons, according to Moore. While inside, the 7-year-old asked the younger boy why he hadn't bought any ice cream.

"[He] said, 'didn't you have any money,'"Moore said. "Then, based on something he's seen on TV, he held up the plastic knife, which you would get at a Walgreen's or anywhere, and he said, 'you don't have any money, you don't have any money.'ƒ|"

"What you saw here was more play-acting," Moore said.

After the bathroom incident, Moore said, the boys returned to class. None gave any other indication to teachers that something had occurred, he said.

The 7-year-old still does not understand what, if anything, he did wrong and still considers the other children his friends.

"When you get into this age, it's very difficult that a 7-year-old would form the same criminal intent that even 12 or 15-year-old would and actually have the capability to carry out a threat," Moore said.

The State Attorney's Office said it has not received the case files from Pembroke Pines to determine whether to prosecute.

Come next year, Moore said, the boy's mother is enrolling him in private school.

For more information on this story or others like it contact criminal attorney William Moore, 721 SE 13th Street, Suite 1, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33316. Phone: (954) 514-7078.