Family of boy accused of killing mother hopes for treatment, not - - Jackson, MS

Family of boy accused of killing mother hopes for treatment, not prison

Gwendolyn Wallace Gwendolyn Wallace

(WMC-TV) - Court will resume Tuesday morning for the 14-year-old charged with murder and aggravated arson for the fire that killed his mother, Gwendolyn Wallace.

The teen, who Action News 5 has chosen not to identify at this point, is accused of setting the stairs at his house on fire because he was angry with his mother after she barred him from seeing his girlfriend for two weeks. Shelby County Sheriff's Department investigators say the teen knew Wallace would be trapped upstairs during the fire and would not be able to get out.

A juvenile court judge already decided there is enough probable cause to believe the teen committed the crime, but a hearing to determine whether the case will be turned over to adult court or stay in the juvenile system was delayed indefinitely because a key state witness, a state psychologist, could not testify on the day of the hearing due to a medical emergency.

That hearing continued at 1 p.m., but no decision was made on whether the teen will be tried as a child or an adult. Court will resume at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

"He's 14 and he doesn't really get it," said his defense attorney, Rob Gowan. "He's very young. He can be helped."

Defense Attorney Rob Gowan says the teen is not in a gang and has never made trouble before, but has had previous counseling. He says he needs doctor's care and attention rather than a lifetime behind bars.

"He needs treatment. And everyone knows he needs treatment, but there's no way while he's in detention to get him that treatment," said Gowan.

The boy's family agrees and hopes that the teenager's exit from juvenile court is not an entrance to 201 Poplar.

"I feel like that they're treating him okay in there. So hopefully he'll get the treatment that he needs," said Green.

If the teen is sent to adult court, a conviction could mean life in prison. If he stays in the juvenile system, he would be free no later than his 19th birthday.

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