Transcript for Teen suspects in deadly sandbag throwing appear in court
insecurity in that city, but first this half hour, to those four teenagers charged for dropping sandbags off an overpass, and killing a man. Gio Benitez is here with the latest. Good morning to you. Reporter: That sandbag crashed through the windshield severely injuring the 22-year-old, and he died two days later, and now those teens are facing charges. The sobering reality for these teenage boys spending their holiday season in a juvenile detention center. Each between the ages of 13 and 15, openly crying, denying charges of murder and vehicular vandalism stemming from a prank that turned deadly. Police claim the teenagers deliberately and fatally tossed a sandbag off of an interstate. It hit a car below. He is not moving. Reporter: 22-year-old marquise Byrd, dying from his injuries two days later. I will say today from each of the juveniles. Reporter: This coming just two months after five teenagers in Michigan were charged with second-degree murder accused of throwing rocks off on overpass on the exact same highway. One deadly toss of a six-pound rock killing 32-year-old father of four, Kenneth white. The five defendants pleaded not guilty and face possible life imprisonment if convicted. In this latest case, an attorney for one of the boys, his client expresses remorse for the victim, and the prosecutor tells us it's unlikely for them to be tried as adults because the bar is too high. Gio, thank you so much. Let's bring in a pair of guests. Stephanie dowd is a clinical psychologist at the child mind institute, and areva martin in Los Angeles, welcome to both of you. Dr. Dowd, let's start with you. Some of these kids, we're talking 13, and 14 years old. When role does the development play in this? Brain development plays a big role in this. For teens, the brain is still developing. For the human brain, it's developing through the mid 20s, and so the part of the brain that is called the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, thinking through short-term, long-term consequences. Controlling one's emotions and impulses. That is the last part of the brain to develop. So it's important to recognize that teens -- it's not that they don't have this ability to engage in those behaviors. It's just an underdeveloped part of the brain for them. This is a horrifying story for both O us. We both have boys at home. Can you say more about what drives these teenagers to do these things? It's hard for adults to comprehend that a teen could do something like this, yobut the important thing to remember is the teen brain is different than the adult brain. Teens have a tough time understanding short-term and long-term consequences because they tend to be more impulsive and reactive. The other thing is that teens have more intense emotions. They feel their emotions more intensely, and so it's harder for them to hit the brakes in response to their feelings, and teens tend to be really influenced by their peers, and peer approval is highly rewarding for teens at this age in their life. I want to bring in areva from Los Angeles. Those Michigan kids just a few years older are being tried in ts and in Ohio as juveniles. Is that the right call, and do we take into account the physiological development we were just talking about? Juveniles can be transferped to adult court, and states look at the age of the teens when the alleged crime occurs. They look at prior offenses and the severity of the crime. In the Michigan case, the boys were older. Although it was just a couple of years, that makes a big difference in terms of the criminal justice system and whether they will be tried as juveniles or adults. In Ohio, the bar is a lot higher and they look at whether or not there is enough time to rehabilitate these teens, and the prosecutor has determined that because they were 13 to 15 years old, they can't be tried as adults. Different states look at these situations differently, and depending on the state, you can have what looks to be similar situations treated very differently. Some in juvenile court, and some in traditional court. A young man was killed in this case. His family is in mourning. They want these kids tried as adults. This is an incredibly tough balance to strike. It substituabsolutely is, and prosecutors and judges have to make these calls all the time, and in some cases, families don't believe justice is served and in Ohio, the families feel like these boys should be tried in adult courts, but the prosecutor says it won't happen, and they will stay in the juvenile system. Just a point as we thank areva and Stephanie, thank you both. This is a great case to discuss with your teenagers.
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