STEUBENVILLE - A hearing was held Wednesday in juvenile court to determine whether a 17-year-old who pleaded guilty in common pleas court to stabbing his best friend to death on July 25 should have his case sent back to adult common pleas court.
Jefferson County Juvenile Judge Sam Kerr presided over the brief hearing in which the defense and prosecution stipulated to the facts of the case and a study to determine whether Jalontay Johnson, 17, is amenable in the juvenile court system.
Johnson pleaded guilty in February to an amended indictment charging voluntary manslaughter and two counts of tampering with evidence in connection with the stabbing death of Demitrius Thomas, 17, in an alley in the rear of the 3000 block of Lawson Avenue.
Johnson was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but it was determined during the hearing in adult court that the case should be sent back to juvenile court for further proceedings.
Johnson was bound over from juvenile to adult court on a charge of murder.
In juvenile court, a murder charge against an older teen is automatically bound over to adult court if probable cause is found, meaning the juvenile more than likely committed the crime.
But the charge of voluntary manslaughter is a discretionary bindover for a juvenile judge. Juvenile court must conduct a study, which includes a psychological profile, to determine if the juvenile is amenable to treatment in the juvenile justice system or if the case should be bound over to adult court.
Assistant Prosecutor Samuel Pate and defense attorney Steven Stickles stipulated to all the information from the juvenile court probable cause hearing and the discovery of evidence provided when the case went to adult court. Stickles said the plea of voluntary manslaughter and the sentence of 13 years was the agreement.
If Kerr rules Johnson's case should go back to adult court, a sentencing hearing will be held before Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr.
Johnson told Kerr it was a voluntary agreement to stipulate to the facts of the case and for his case to go back to adult court.
Kerr took the matter under advisement and said he would rule in the next several days.