Prosecutors in Summit County, Ohio have asked a juvenile judge not to consider a defendant’s IQ when deciding whether he should be tried as an adult. According to a story in the Akron Beacon Journal, 15-year-old Jamal Vaughn, who was just 14 when arrested as an accomplice in a brutal double murder, has an IQ of 70 with minimal reading, math and spelling skills.
Authorities say Vaughn played a part in last year’s “New Franklin murders,” as they are known in the area. The main perpetrator was 18-year-old Shawn Ford, Jr., the former boyfriend of the victims’ daughter. It is alleged Jeffrey and Margaret Schobert were beaten to death with a brick and sledgehammer by the two young men. The motive, police say, was the married couple’s refusal to allow Ford to visit their daughter in the hospital. Cleveland’s Fox 8 News reported that Ford has also been charged in the assault that landed the young girl, Chelsea Schobert, in that hospital bed.
Juvenile Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio ruled last August that there was sufficient evidence to transfer Vaughn’s aggravated murder case to adult court. State law, however, requires that an “amenability hearing” be held to decide if Vaughn is capable of rehabilitation in a juvenile detention facility if he is convicted.
Summit County Assistant Prosecutor Brian LoPrinzi says Vaughn is not.
“What is it we’re rehabilitating? He has a low IQ,” LoPrinzi told the judge in closing arguments Tuesday, “and we’re not going to change that.”
A court psychologist testified at the hearing that Vaughn was being treated for depression over the breakup of his parents. However, there was no other psychological or emotional issue that could be documented or treated according to the professional.
Vaughn’s attorney, Adam VanHo, painted his client as a victim of Ford’s coercion, calling Ford a “monster.”
“If Shawn Ford wasn’t there that night,” VanHo told the court, “none of us would be here in this courtroom and the Schoberts would still be at home.”
He also argued that Vaughn is not emotionally or physically mature enough to withstand time in adult prison.
“To put him into that prison system,” VanHo said, “is to essentially give him a death sentence.”
The judge did not give a deadline for her ruling, but said she would issue a written decision after considering all testimony as well as Vaughn’s school records.