Should Teen Girl Be Tried as Adult for Dad's Murder?
This morning, Phil Snyder and Anahita Sedaghatfar joined Jon Scott on Happening Now to discuss a hearing that is underway in a Maryland court to determine if a 16-year-old girl who allegedly asked her boyfriend to kill her father should be tried as an adult.
Prosecutors allege Morgan Lane Arnold - who was 14 at the time of the killing - asked her then-boyfriend, Jason Bulmer, to kill her father because she was sick of him.
She is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation to commit murder in the May 2013 death of her father, 58-year-old Dennis Lane, a well-known businessman and blogger in Howard County.
If the girl were convicted in the juvenile system, she could be released by age 21. If convicted as an adult, she could be sentenced to life in prison.
Morgan Arnold was 14 at the time of the killing. Prosecutors allege she asked her then-boyfriend, Jason Bulmer, to kill her father because "she was sick of him."
Dennis Lane was stabbed to death in his Ellicott City home. Bulmer, 20, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in the killing; he was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison.
Arnold's mother told Judge William Tucker that when her daughter was a toddler, she would become hysterical around other children.
"She couldn't tolerate even being physically near them," Cindi Arnold said.
The mother, who smiled at her daughter from the witness stand, recalled that Morgan's day care provider gave her a desk placed off to the side so she could be away from the other children.
"She was in her own world most of the time," Cindi Arnold said.
The girl was later diagnosed with Asperger's, a form of autism, as well as anxiety and depression, she said.
Prosecutors tried to poke holes in the defense portrayal, asserting that Arnold had friends and interacted with her peers. They played a YouTube video from a few years ago showing Morgan dancing and laughing with a neighbor to the pop song "Rockstar" by Prima J.
Cindi Arnold was never married to Lane, and the two were sharing custody at the time of Lane's death. They often disagreed on how to best treat their daughter's social and emotional issues, according to court testimony.
The state's Department of Juvenile Services has recommended the girl be tried as an adult, according to a case management specialist who testified Tuesday.
Morgan Arnold read a book throughout the hearing, a blue stuffed turtle sitting on the defense table in front of her and a tan stuffed bunny rabbit with droopy ears placed in a chair behind her. She wore a long pink skirt and black "Hello Kitty" top, with shackles around the pink, patterned socks she had pulled up to cover her lower legs.
Snyder, a former prosecutor, said Arnold should be tried as an adult because it was a premeditated, calculated act and she showed no remorse.
Sedaghatfar said it should get kicked back to juvenile court and that the defense needs to focus on her history of mental illnesses and disorders. That way, she can focus on her rehabilitation and not be in prison with adult criminals.
Snyder argued she knew what she was doing and an adult sentence is appropriate, especially given that she was involved in the planning of the murder, including approving the knife.
Watch the full discussion above and let us know your thoughts below.