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September 13, 2017 06:02 PM

Prosecutor Seeing More Juvenile Cases In Adult Court

Another teen is set to appear in court for his role in the Bakker Park killing a few weeks ago.  16-year-old Jaden Carmel will make his first appearance in Lincoln County on Monday.  He faces Aiding and Abetting First Degree Murder and other charges. 

Earlier in the investigation, authorities arrested 18-year-old Dylan Holler.  He is accused of killing a 17-year-old boy.  Sadly, these are not the only teenagers facing charges in adult court for their alleged crimes.  Following Holler's arrest, Sioux Falls Police said they had been seeing more teen on teen violent crime. 

Most recently, a judge sentenced 17-year-old Wilson Hughes to at least 30 years behind bars for beating 18-year-old Arick Strauser to death.   In Minnehaha County, a woman who prosecutes these juvenile crimes in adult court says she's noticed a troubling trend. 

"It concerns me kids don't seem to understand their behavior has consequences and they could be going to prison for some of the things they do," Carole James, Deputy State's Attorney for Minnehaha County, said. 

Currently in Minnehaha County, there are eight pending cases with juveniles being tried in adult court. 

"It does appear to be a lot.  In the past, over the past ten years, I don't know when we've had eight kids charged at one time in adult court," James said. 

Those cases include a homicide, burglaries, robberies, and a kidnapping.  In general, the number of juvenile cases in Minnehaha County is increasing.  409 charges were filed against juveniles in 2015; that jumped to 605 in 2016.  Some of those cases do end up in adult court.  James says that happens if teens are 16 or older, or even younger than 16 -- depending on what type of felony they're accused of  committing.  

"Stealing cars, stealing felony amounts of property or committing aggravated assault or armed robbery, burglary; those sorts of things," James said. 

It is a tough problem to fix, and James says there isn't an easy solution.  There is not just bad news, though.  James says the other side of her job is rewarding when she sees kids and teens who overcome their legal troubles and make better decisions in the future. 

"It's those successes that make me keep doing this job and knowing we're making a difference," James said. 

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