Two Florida girls, charged with shooting and killing their 16-year-old brother, could see their charges dropped or greatly reduced because they had allegedly been abused for years prior to the shooting, the lead prosecutor in the case said Tuesday.
The Associated Press reports Third Circuit State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister told reporters at a news conference he will make his final determination after a Thursday court hearing regarding the girls’ continued care. Both of the girls’ parents are currently in jail.
The 15-year-old and 11-year-old girls were both arrested on first-degree murder charges Jan. 5 after Columbia County sheriff’s deputies discovered their brother dead in their home near White Springs, Florida, CBS News reported. Those charges were later changed to second-degree murder charges.
Siegmeister said he is considering dropping or reducing the charges after a subsequent investigation revealed the girls had likely been emotionally, physically and sexually abused for a number of years.
The eldest sister had reportedly been locked in a bedroom for days at a time with only a blanket and a bucket to use for a toilet. It was her younger sister who let her out of the locked room the day the shooting occurred, police said.
The two sisters then went to the parents’ room and retrieved a gun before shooting the brother while he was on the couch, police said.
The father, who works as a truck driver, was not home at the time. The girls’ mother was traveling with the father.
Siegmeister told those gathered for the news conference Tuesday he would consider the girls’ age and the alleged abuse when making a final determination on the charges.
A story from the Daily Mail indicates the 15-year-old girl’s uncle was convicted of molesting her in 2010.
If the girls are convicted as minors of second-degree murder they will remain behind bars until they are 21.
The Associated Press and other news outlets have declined to name the girls because of the abuse allegations.
Both parents are currently facing felony child neglect charges.
A 3-year-old child who also lived in the home is being cared for by state child welfare officials.