The murder of 8-year-old California girl Leila Fowler was national news almost immediately. The details were horrific: a young girl and her 12-year-old brother left alone in their house, an intruder with "long hair" who broke in and stabbed her to death. It was all too much to bear. And then it got worse.
Two weeks ago Fowler's own brother, just 12, was arrested and charged with the crime. Police say he made up the story about the intruder, a story that sparked a massive manhunt and ripple of fear throughout the country. Now the boy has pleaded not guilty to the crime and we are all left to wonder what happens when a child is accused of a brutal, unimaginable crime.
The boy named Isaiah has only ever been in minor trouble. He was suspended from school for bringing a Swiss army knife. Could it be connected? Anything could be true now. All I know is my heart aches for this family.
The father and his fiancee had created a blended family of seven kids. Though money was said to be tight, it also sounds like the kids were happy and well-cared for, so what could have gone wrong?
As a mom, the idea of one child hurting the other one is always disturbing. Obviously, with siblings, it happens. My children push one another down, scratch each other, occasionally hit, and sometimes worse. But in general, I feel like the love outweighs all those moments. But what if it didn't?
What if a momentary squabble turned violent? What if it turned deadly?
It's not impossible. Children often don't realize that the things they do have lasting -- even forever -- consequences. Still, 12 seems a bit old for that magical thinking.
Since he pleaded not guilty, let's hope that this is all a big misunderstanding and that the one tragedy this family has experienced doesn't become compounded by losing two of their children. On the other hand, if he is guilty, the reality is he will be done with his time at 23.
Is 11 years enough time to serve for the murder of a perfectly innocent 8-year-old child? Does a 12-year-old lack the reasoning skills to understand murder? These are the questions that will need to be answered, but one thing is clear: the parents here will never have "justice." Their family is destroyed forever and no matter what the outcome is, there is no happy ending.
Do you think 12 is old enough to understand murder?
Image via police