Mother of Boy Convicted of Murder Speaks Out

ByABC News
January 26, 2001, 11:39 AM

Jan. 26 -- The mother of a 13-year-old boy convicted of murdering a 6-year-old-girl by practicing wrestling moves on her, says she still cant believe the jury found her son guilty.

"I thought she [the judge who announced the verdict] made amistake," said Kathleen Grossett-Tate during a television show this morning. "I was waiting forher to say I'm sorry, I made a mistake it's not guilty."

Lionel Tate, who was tried as an adult, was 12 at the time of the killing. He faces life in prison without parole after a jury refused to accept the boy's defense that he killed the girl unintentionally while imitating wrestling moves he had seen on television.

An autopsy showed that Tiffany Eunick, who died in July 1999, suffered a fractured skull,lacerated liver, broken rib, internal hemorrhaging, cuts and bruises.

Experts said the injuries were typical of a girl who had fallen from a three-story building. Defense witnesses also concluded Lionel's defense would not have caused all of Tiffany's injuries.

Appealing the Verdict

Jim Lewis, the boy's attorney, promised to appeal Thursday's verdict saying the judge should have allowed testimony from psychologists and experts who study the impact of TV violence on children.

"The jurors heard some about wrestling, but I don't think itwas enough," Lewis said. "They did not hear from the experts, thepsychologists, the media violence experts, that could havepersuaded this jury that Lionel had fallen into the trap so manyyoungsters fall into."

Lewis was only allowed to present limited testimony about Lionel's obsession withwrestling.

"The injuries were so extensive we all felt that it wasn't anaccident," juror William Stevenson told The Associated Press. "We had to abide by thelaw, and the law spelled it out. It wasn't just wrestling."

Sentencing is scheduled for March 2. Tate is one of the youngest convicted murderers in state history. He could not be sentenced to death for the crime because he is younger than 16.