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Young Suspect’s Intent Debated

November 9, 1999

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ Nathaniel Abraham, one of the nation’s youngest murder defendants, has trouble carrying out plans, a psychologist testified Monday.

Dr. Margaret Stack, who interviewed Nathaniel three times after his arrest in October 1997, said he had delays in his emotional and intellectual development.

``His ability to make a plan and carry it out is limited,″ Ms. Stack said.

Nathaniel is charged with shooting Ronnie Greene, 18, in the head outside a Pontiac party store. Nathaniel, who was 11 at the time, is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, assault with intent to commit murder and two felony firearms counts.

Much of Nathaniel’s defense centers on what his lawyers argue was his diminished mental capacity at the time of the shooting. Judge Eugene Moore ruled Monday that he would instruct jurors that when they consider diminished capacity, they can consider age.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Fieger contends that Nathaniel had ``a 6-year-old mentality,″ and should not be tried as an adult. He has said that an adult with a 6-year-old’s mental level could not be tried at all.

Another psychologist, Dr. Michael Abramsky, said Nathaniel was unable to form concrete cause-and-effect reasoning and couldn’t form criminal intent.

``He doesn’t understand that his behavior can result in tragic consequences,″ he said.

Prosecutors have said Nathaniel’s statement to a friend, ``I’m going to shoot somebody,″ is evidence of his intent.

Abramsky disagreed. ``I suspect this is simply bragging about stuff,″ he said. ``His mind isn’t capable of that.″

If convicted, Nathaniel could be sentenced to life in prison without parole, to juvenile detention until he becomes an adult, or to a blended sentence in which his record would be re-examined when he turns 21 to see if he should be freed or held.

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