Three Teenage Boys Charged with Murder of Hoboken Man – Should Teen Killers be Tried as Adults? [POLL/VIDEOS – Warning: Violent Content]
Three kids who are apparently looking for “fun” at the expense of someone they perceive as vulnerable, play a game called “knockout,” where the object of the game is to knock out the intended victim with one punch.
Along comes their unsuspecting prey, and with one swift punch, is left to die with his head wedged in a fence on a quiet street in Hoboken.
This isn’t the only story of teen violence in recent weeks and months.
Add this to the sad list of other offenses that have allegedly (or in some cases have admittedly) been committed by teens.
The story of the Australian ballplayer killed for no other reason than the killers were bored.
The killers of the Clayton girl Autumn Pasquale, who agreed to meet her would-be attackers as she was searching for bicycle parts.
The boys, two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old, all from Jersey City, face murder charges and have been remanded to the Hudson County Youth Detention Center, Gregory said.
Police believe the boys followed the victim, Ralph Erick Santiago, 46, of Hoboken on Sept. 10 when one of the boys threw a punch at Santiago's head in what detectives believe was a game of "knockout," Gregory said.
Santiago then collapsed onto an iron fence, wedging his neck between two iron fence posts, where he died, Gregory said.
Homicide detectives believe the boys traveled on the Light Rail from Jersey City to Hoboken prior to the attack, Gregory said.
Two of the boys turned themselves in on Thursday and the third boy turned himself in today, Gregory said.
Gregory credited the Hoboken, Jersey City and New Jersey Transit Police Departments for their assistance in the investigation.
The announcement of the arrests come on the same day that a prayer service was held for Santiago and just days after images of three "persons of intrest" were released by the Prosecutor's Office.
And lest we forget the homeless man, who while not killed, was beaten simply for the fact he was homeless.
In December 2011, Taylor Giresi was videotaped by a then 17-year-old boy as he pushed, kicked and threw things a homeless man in Wall Township.
The middle-aged homeless man, later identified as David Ivins, did not fight back, even after his face was bloodied, but rather said he was “being pleasant” and warning his attackers “Y’all can get in trouble for that.”
And when Ivins agreed to hug Giresi as a showing of peace, Giresi kneed him in the abdomen.
Standing in front of Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J. Mellaci, Jr., Giresi claimed he wasn’t trying to hurt Ivins.
“What I did was wrong,” he said, adding that he was under the influence of marijuana and “something else” at the time.
Giresi said Ivins “said the wrong thing, at the wrong time” and that he reacted.
“It wasn’t like anything serious. But when it got put on YouTube, I guess it got serious,” said Giresi, claiming he has since apologized to Ivins.
The Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office requested, under a plea agreement, that Giresi be sentenced to four years in state prison.
But Giresi’s attorney – Albert Kapin – argued that sentence was too steep due to Giresi’s limited cognitive ability and the fact that he was seen being directed in the video by the juvenile, even though Giresi was older.
“Obviously this was a poor decision in a history of bad decisions my client has made. (But) this is an individual with a very troubled past who has very limited cognitive ability,” said Kapin, adding doctors indicated that Giresi has an IQ of 74.
But Assistant Prosecutor Noah Heck, who represented the Prosecutor’s Office, argued that while he agreed Giresi was cognitively limited, he still knew what he was doing was wrong.
“This defendant is an adult and doesn’t have any sort of disability that prevents him from being treated by society as an adult,” Heck said. “And he needs to be held responsible as the adult involved when a crime occurs.”
According to the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office, the juvenile involved in the attack served more than 60 days in a state youth detention facility and later received a one-year suspended sentence and was place on probation for one year.
Before sentencing Giresi to three years in state prison, Mellaci called him “very fortunate” because the charges, as initially written, would have qualified under the No Early Release Act and sent Giresi to prison for “quite a long time.”
While the 22 year old was already an adult, the fact that all he received was 3 years should make one question whether or not justice was served.
But what of teen killers. Should they be tried as adults?