A 14-Year-Old Facing Murder Charge Relieved to Juvenile Custody
A 14-year-old boy, who is facing second-degree murder charges for fatally shooting another 14-year-old, was released to the custody of his family after Vermont’s Addison County state’s attorney Eva Vekos withdrew her request to hold him in an adult prison. The case has garnered significant attention partly because of the age of the accused and allegations of carelessness that led to the victim’s death. Vermont public is yet to reveal the accused’s identity because he is a juvenile.
The Allegations and the Affidavit
The accused was allegedly showing a loaded pistol around in a car when it went off and fatally shot Madden Gouveia of Shelburne. The shooting was accidental, which the accused attested by saying “he didn’t mean to shoot” during the incident. Vekos filed three felony charges against the defendant: second-degree murder, manslaughter, and aggravated assault. If found guilty, he faces a life sentence. Vekos initially requested that the defendant be held without bail in an adult prison because he violated previous conditions of release, and she believed that the evidence of guilt against him was strong.
The defendant’s attorney, Chief Juvenile Defender Marshall Pahl, presented testimony from the Department of Corrections (DOC) that said holding the youngster in prison would amount to solitary confinement since Vermont has no secured in-state facilities to house youth accused of crimes after the state’s solely juvenile detention center closed down in 2020. Since then, in some cases, youth have been detained in prisons because federal law requires youth placed in prisons to be isolated from adults held them except in exceptional situations.
After hearing that testimony, Vekos withdrew her motion to hold the defendant without bail. Instead, the teenager was released into the custody of his parents with strict 24-hour curfew conditions that only allows him out of the house for school, doctor appointments, therapy and court sessions. Vekos said the testimony changed her mind because she feared the youth would be harmed by being in isolation or housed with adult criminals.
Charging juveniles as adults in Vermont
Vekos charged the teenager as an adult because of the gravity of the alleged conduct. While rare, if kids 14 or older are charged with serious felonies like murder in Vermont, they can only be charged in adult court, said Pahl, the boy’s attorney. He described the case as tragic carelessness and questioned whether a second-degree murder charge was appropriate based on the thin affidavit filed in court by Vekos.
The case highlights the tug-of-war associated with youth who violate the law and the need to balance justice with their welfare and constitutional rights. Despite the grave nature of the allegations, authorities must tread carefully in ensuring that justice is served and that juveniles receive the appropriate care and rehabilitation that can set them on the right path in the future. Furthermore, Vermont’s case raises the need for states to have adequate facilities to house juveniles accused of crimes.
Read more about this topic at
Juvenile Justice: The Nathaniel Abraham Murder Case
Juvenile Life Without Parole: An Overview