Sunday, September 14, 2014

Michigan: Detroit to Prosecute 14-Year-Old on Murder, Armed Robbery Charges in Death of Artist

According to The Associated Press, a judge on Thursday (September 11) ordered a 14-year-old boy to stand trial on first-degree murder and armed robbery charges in the fatal shooting of French street artist Bilal Berreni, 23, of Paris, whose body was discovered a year ago near an abandoned public housing project.
The boy was 13 at the time of the killing of 23-year-old Bilal Berreni of Paris. Prosecutor Kym Worthy has said that the boy and three other then-teenagers carried out the attack.
Berreni was found with a gunshot wound to the face on July 29, 2013, outside the Frederick Douglass Homes. No identification was on the victim. Consequently, it was seven months before the Michigan State Police (MSP) identified him through fingerprints.
At a hearing Thursday, police Investigator Ira Todd testified that the boy told officers that he and his friends were shooting dice when they decided to rob and kill someone, according to The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News. The boy said they spotted Berreni skateboarding, pulled a gun on him and demanded money, according to Todd.
COMMENT: I continue to urge all foreign travelers contemplating travel to the US to access the below website BEFORE initiating travel:

If Bilal Berreni had visited a public library in Detroit upon his arrival in the Detroit Metropolitan Area he would have  quickly realized that with 100 being a value of the SAFEST city in the US, the above website rates Detroit as a "TWO," which translates into Detroit being among one of the most dangerous cities in the US!

As a basis of comparison, Chicago, Illinois is rated as an EIGHT!
"I don't have any money," Berreni told the teens, according to the 14-year-old's statement. "Stop lying to me," said Dionte Travis, then 16, according to the younger boy's statement. The 14-year-old said he and his friends took $300, credit cards and a backpack from Berreni. Afterward, Travis stood over Berreni with a gun, a shot went off and Berreni slumped over, the younger boy's statement said.
The 14-year-old told police that he used his $50 share of the robbery to buy "junk food" and marijuana, Todd said.
After hearing the testimony, Judge Virgil Smith ruled that there was enough evidence to try the 14-year-old. His next hearing is September 22 before Judge Alexis Glendening.
The boy is designated as an adult in the juvenile court system. If he's convicted, a judge could sentence him as a juvenile, an adult or a juvenile for a period, then an adult.
Travis, now 17; Jasin Curtis, 18; and Drequone Rich, 20, were scheduled to have a probable cause hearing Thursday in adult court on first-degree murder, robbery and other charges. A Detroit district judge instead ordered that they undergo competency proceedings and rescheduled a hearing for October 9.
Prosecutors aren't naming the 14-year-old because of his age. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS generally doesn't identify juveniles accused of crimes. The AP is naming Travis because he was charged as an adult.
Family members of the teen declined to comment to reporters after the hearing. The AP left phone and email messages for the boy's lawyer, George Chedraue, on Thursday night seeking comment.
Berreni graduated from an applied arts school, then left France to pursue his art abroad. He signed his work under the name the Zoo Project, gaining attention in 2011, through work in Tunisia in which he made life-size pictures of people killed in unrest in that North African nation.
Berreni visited Detroit in 2012 and again in 2013.