Convicted 14-year-old Transferred to Juvenile Prison

ByABC News
March 13, 2001, 11:04 AM

M I A M I, March 13 -- Lionel Tate, the 14-year-old boy serving a lifesentence for the murder of a 6-year-old family friend, is now in ajuvenile prison, having been transferred three days after heentered an adult prison.

Officials secretly moved Tate on Monday night, shifting him fromthe South Florida Reception Center near Miami to the maximumsecurity Okeechobee Juvenile Offender Center about 100 miles to thenorth.

He will be kept with 47 other boys convicted of violent crimes,said Catherine Arnold, a spokeswoman with the Department ofJuvenile Justice. The facility also houses 48 male sex offenderswho are segregated in a separate wing. Arnold said Tuesday that Tate was being evaluated and will soonbe assigned an education program, a counselor and mental healthtreatment. "Whatever his particular needs are, after evaluation, thoseneeds will be addressed," Arnold said. Tate will be kept at Okeechobee for the foreseeable future, shesaid, unless he becomes violent or disruptive. He would be sentback to an adult prison if that happens, she said. Jim Lewis, Tate's attorney, did not immediately return a callfor comment Tuesday. Tate received a mandatory life sentence Friday for the 1999murder of Tiffany Eunick, whom his mother was baby-sitting. Tate says he accidentally killed the girl while imitating prowrestlers, but a jury rejected that defense, convicting him offirst-degree murder. The girl suffered numerous injuries, includinga skull fracture and a severed liver. Lewis said Monday that a notice of appeal will be filed thisweek in addition to a request for clemency with the governor. Janet Keels, coordinator for the Office of Executive Clemency inTallahassee, said prisoners are not normally eligible for clemencyuntil they have served two years of their sentence, but Gov. JebBush can waive that requirement. It normally takes a year toprocess the request, but the governor can also order thatexpedited, she said.

If that happens, investigators would prepare a reportinterviewing everyone involved in the case, including prosecutorKen Padowitz, Broward County Judge Joel Lazarus, who oversaw histrial, and Tiffany's mother, Deweese Eunick-Paul.