The fatal shooting of 61-year-old Sunil Edla shook the Ventnor neighborhood where he lived with his family for about three years.
Even more shocking was the arrest of a 16-year-old from Egg Harbor City in the killing that seemed to be over the grandfather of three’s SUV.
The question many now have is whether the teen will be tried as an adult.
That decision is left up to Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner, who has 60 days to decide, according to the statute.
But changes to the juvenile system made in 2016 make it more likely.
Before, offenders who were 14 or 15 years old would get a hearing where the judge would decide whether the case should be waived. For those 16 and older it would take probable cause.
Now, the law doesn’t allow for anyone 14 or younger to be waived up to adult court in New Jersey. But for those older than that, it’s nearly automatic in certain crimes like murder, sexual assault and kidnapping, as long as the prosecutor chooses.
“Crimes such as (those) of the first degree in juveniles 16 and older should have no waiver standard,” said Chris Taggart, a retired Pleasantville police lieutenant who was one of several experts who spoke during a September hearing on juvenile crime in Trenton. “They should be immediately taken to adult status.”
Tyner would not comment on the issue. But attorney Diane Ruberton — an Atlantic County prosecutor for 18 years — gave BreakingAC some insight into the process.
Nature of the crime and criminal history are two primary factors, she said.
“The nature of the offense is a big issue,” said Ruberton, who served as acting Atlantic County prosecutor before the appointment Tyner, who fired her this year. “Homicide is one of the ones you would always consider and seriously look at whether you waive up the individual.”
They also question if this is something out of character or an escalation of an increasingly violent criminal history?
The juvenile’s personal or family history is also considered, including if there’s mental illness or a disability.
“The primary goal of the juvenile system is to make them a working and productive member of society as an adult,” Ruberton said. “If they have not able to do that, then the juvenile system would be ineffective. It’s really a case-by-case decision.”
Egg Harbor City teen charged in killing of Ventnor grandfather – BreakingAC
A teen has been charged in the killing ofÂ a Ventnor grandfather outside the older man’s home. Sunil Edla was planning a Nov. 27 trip to see his mother in India and celebrate her 95th birthday. But as he headed to work at about 7:45 Thursday night, a man shot him in the head, leaving … Read more
The teen charged in the Ventnor killing currently is housed in the Harborfields Juvenile Detention Center on charges of murder, felony murder, robbery, carjacking and weapons offenses. Under the reforms, he would stay in a juvenile facility, even if he winds up being tried in the adult system.
His name has not been released due to his age, but would be if he is waived up.