Psychologist: Teen Charged with Murder "Could Be Rehabilitated"

A 14-year-old boy who allegedly fatally shot his friend with a crossbow "could be rehabilitated," according to a court-ordered psychological evaluation.

Shane Edward Brooks, 14, is one of the youngest people ever to be charged with first degree murder in Oklahoma. The boy is accused of shooting two of his friends with a crossbow, killing one of them. In Oklahoma, minors accused of first degree murder are charged as an adult if they are 15, 16, or 17 years old. A minor aged 13 or 14 may be charged as either a youthful offender or as an adult.

Prosecutors say that on October 21, 2017, Brooks--then 13--was playing with two friends near his home, working with them on building a tree house. When brothers Austin and Ayden Almanza, 10 and 8, decided to go home, Brooks reportedly became upset, grabbed a crossbow, and crouched in some nearby grass before firing the crossbow at the two brothers. A single bolt passed through the abdomen of Austin Almanza before striking younger brother Ayden in the arm. Austin died of his injuries.

The younger Almanza told police Shane Brooks shot them because he was "mad at" them and because he was "just mean."

Brooks reported that he accidentally shot the brothers while hunting. According to an affidavit, he told his mother he didn't know what happened, but that he "believes the crossbow was loaded wrong."

The psychologists report says that Brooks admits to having a "short fuse" and an anger management problem. It points to prior violent altercations with classmates at schools in both Indiana and Oklahoma, and it references two police reports in which Brooks's mother called police because her son was hitting her.

However, despite the police reports, both Shane Brooks and his mother deny that he physically assaulted her. The boy's mother says her son "is not a violent person," and told a juvenile justice specialist, "I don't want Shane to be looked at as a bad kid. I want him to be looked at as the caring person he is."

According to the psychologist who assessed the teen, Brooks is capable of knowing right from wrong and is aware of his difficulty managing his anger. The psychologist reports that the teen is capable of rehabilitation if given appropriate treatment; however, there is a "moderate possibility" of future violence or criminal acts.

The psychologist wrote in the evaluation, "He does appear to have the ability to distinguish right from wrong, as he expresses remorse for his actions after the fact. However, his judgment appears inhibited by unhealthy expressions of anger and impulsivity.” Treatment should focus on teaching the teen “skills for anger management and problem solving.”

If the boy is ultimately convicted as a youthful offender, he will be held in a juvenile facility no longer than five months after his 18th birthday. While in the facility he will attend a treatment program. However, if he fails to complete the treatment program, a judge could sentence him to state prison when he ages out of the juvenile system.

If the teen is ultimately tried and convicted as an adult, he will remain in a juvenile facility until he is of age to be transferred to adult prison, where he will serve the remainder of any sentence.

Image credit: https://www.crossbowproductions.com/

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