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11-Year-Old Suspected of Murder

November 4, 1997

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ A menace to society or a scared little boy.

Prosecutors paint a different picture than neighbors and the lawyer of 11-year-old Nathaniel Jamal Abraham, charged as an adult in the shooting death of an 18-year-old he didn’t know.

``It’s horrifying someone this young can be so violent, so dangerous,″ prosecutor James Halushka said Monday.

``I don’t think he knows what he did,″ said Stephanie Kay, 20, among the neighbors who described the boy as respectful of others but impressionable.

Nathaniel, a 65-pound, 4-foot-9 sixth-grader, was arrested Friday in the death of Ronnie Lee Green Jr. outside a store. With his face painted for Halloween, some officers in the station house thought it was a joke when the boy was brought in as a murder suspect.

Police said Nathaniel fired a rifle at a neighbor Wednesday, then picked Green at random and shot him in the head three hours later. Defense lawyers said the boy was shooting at trees.

Nathaniel is charged with first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, and two felony weapons counts. If convicted, he could get anywhere from life in prison without parole to juvenile detention until age 21.

He was ordered Monday to remain in custody until a Nov. 14 preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors said the boy’s record includes arson, burglary, pulling a gun on fellow elementary school pupils, and beating an older boy with a pipe. They allege he told his girlfriend that he was going to shoot someone, and that he hid a .22-caliber rifle six days after his mother turned in another gun to police.

``He’s a violent, violent person,″ Halushka said. ``He may be 11 chronologically, but he’s a menace to society.″

Another prosecutor said the boy deserves the harshest punishment allowable.

``Nice little boys don’t kill people walking down the street. Nice little boys don’t say they intend to shoot somebody the day before they pick up a rifle, load it and shoot at someone,″ Lisa Tomko said. ``Nice little boys don’t have 20, 25 contacts with the police department.″

But Nathaniel never got the help he needed despite the police problems, Ms. Kay noted.

``We used to tell him _ you don’t want to be locked up. Go to school,″ she said. ``We tried to tell him not to mess around.″

Ms. Kay’s housemate, Richard Morales, 28, said he tried to be a role model for Nathaniel since the boy’s mother worked a lot and he had to fend for himself.

Defense lawyer Daniel Bagdade said Nathaniel admitted to shooting the gun at some trees that night, but said there was no intent to hit anyone.

``We’re talking about an 11-year-old little boy, physically and emotionally. He did not know the ramifications of his actions. He didn’t intend to commit either crime,″ Bagdade said. ``He’s too young, too small to be charged as an adult.

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