14-yearold boy gets life sentence - he was tried as an adult

A court in the American state of Florida has sentenced a 14-year-old boy to life in prison without parole for the murder two years ago of a 6-year-old girl, rejecting the defence's request for a retrial or a reduction in the verdict. In a case that has sparked controversy over the right punishment for a person so young, Broward County Circuit Judge Joel Lazarus yesterday ordered Lionel Tate to serve the state's mandatory sentence for a juvenile convicted of first-degree murder in an adult court - life in prison without parole. Tate was tried as an adult - in Florida, juveniles charged with serious crimes may be prosecuted as adults - and was convicted by a Broward County jury in January in the July 28, 1999 following the death of 6-yearold Tiffany Eunick. His defence lawyer said at the trial that the girl died accidentally while Tate rough-housed with her in his home, imitating wrestlers' moves he had seen on television. But the prosecution said the injuries she suffered were far too severe for Tate not to have known he was inflicting serious harm. The jury agreed in its conviction, and so did Lazarus in his strongly worded sentencing statement. "The acts of Lionel Tate were not the playful acts of a child. The acts of Lionel Tate were not the acts born out of immaturity. The acts of Lionel Tate were cold, callous and indescribably cruel," the judge is quoted by Reuters as saying.

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