Sixteen-year-old murder suspect Jerry Boot isn’t entitled to a hearing in Juvenile Court, a Spokane County judge ruled Thursday.
Superior Court Judge Michael Donohue refused to strike down the state law sending Boot automatically to the county jail and the adult criminal-justice system.
“The Legislature has spoken,” Donohue said. “It doesn’t seem to be a close call on the issue of due process rights.”
Last summer, revamped juvenile justice laws took effect in Washington requiring 16- and 17-year-olds accused of certain violent crimes to be charged as adults.
Boot’s lawyer, John Rodgers, claimed that change in the law is unconstitutional. He argued his client’s lack of an extensive criminal record entitles him to be treated as a juvenile, at least initially.
Deputy Prosecutor Jack Driscoll said the law, intended to address the problem of youth violence, has been upheld by other judges.
Boot and his cousin, Kevin, 17, are each charged with first-degree aggravated murder. They have pleaded innocent. The Boots are accused of killing Felicia Reese on Dec. 29.
Sheriff’s detectives say the youths kidnapped Reese, 22, in the parking lot of the Sheraton-Spokane Hotel, where she was attending a Christian conference.
They allegedly forced the Spokane woman into her car, shot her in the head and stole $43 from her purse. Her body was dragged from the car and dumped along Upriver Drive.
The defendants are being held in jail in lieu of $1 million bail.
In a related matter Thursday, Donohue delayed the murder trial six months, to Sept. 18.
The delay was sought by Kevin Boot’s attorney, Richard Fasy, who said he is awaiting crime lab reports that could shed light on the gunman’s identity. According to authorities, the defendants accuse each other.
Prior to his arrest on the murder charge, Kevin Boot notched 18 convictions as a juvenile. He is being prosecuted as an adult for the first time.