Court hears arguments whether Grace Ross murder suspect should be waived to adult court

NOW: Court hears arguments whether Grace Ross murder suspect should be waived to adult court

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- The teen who is accused of killing 6-year-old Grace Ross last March was in court Wednesday for a hearing on whether the case will be waived from juvenile to adult court.

The prosecutor’s office filed a petition to move the case to adult court in November.

The suspect, who ABC57 is choosing not to identify because his case is in juvenile court, was 14 when Ross was killed. He is now 15-years-old.

The suspect has been charged with acts that would be murder if committed by an adult.

Ross was found dead several hours after she was reported missing in March 2021. The teen allegedly admitted to killing her.

The first person to take the stand was the lead investigator, who discussed the details of the case.

The second person to testify was Craig Redman, the probation supervisor at the Juvenile Justice Center where the suspect is being held. Redman said the teen should be waived to adult court and held at the St. Joseph County Jail because of the nature of the crime.

Redman added having the teen at the JJC could create a risk for potential violence because of the nature of his alleged crime.

The teen’s mother took the stand and said her son has never been in trouble. She said he is in the Autism spectrum and has the maturity level of a 9-year-old. She added he also has mental health issues. Those are all factors why she believes the case belongs in adult court.

Another attorney spoke about her experience with other juvenile clients who are waived to adult court. She said juveniles are not allowed to have any contact with adult offenders at the St. Joseph County Jail so the juvenile remains isolated for 23 out of 24 hours a day.
She said that can affect the juvenile’s mental state.

There are no support programs available to juveniles in adult jail, she said.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Fronk argued the case should be in adult court.

“Given the nature of the offense it’s the most egregious offense. It’s taking someone’s life,” Fronk said. “For the safety of the community that’s the primary concern, the state is always concerned with an offender and his well-being, especially when it’s a juvenile but when that complex directly with the safety of the community we have to choose the safety of the community.”

Court adjourned for the day and will resume on March 3.

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