'Unconscionable': NYC Teen Held 1,300 Days in Murder Case

'NYT' looks at New York's 'spotty record' when it comes to speedy trials
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2022 3:15 PM CDT
After Shooting, Teen Waited 1,300 Days to Learn His Fate
   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Timi Oyebola was shot to death on a Brooklyn basketball court in September 2018. Aaron Nathaniel Jr., just 14, was arrested for his murder 12 days later, reports NBC New York. The next real development wouldn't happen for years, a fact that Emily Palmer zeroes in on in a piece for the New York Times. Her article about New York's "spotty record" on the right to a speedy trial ends with this stark contrast: When Nathaniel was arraigned in October 2018, he was 5-foot-4. At his Monday sentencing, the now-18-year-old "towered over his lawyer."

Nathaniel pleaded guilty to second-degree murder last month and will serve 10 years to life. But he has already spent more than 1,300 days at Crossroads Juvenile Center in Brownsville. Palmer writes that a defendant's right to a speedy trial doesn't apply to murder cases in the state, and a law that establishes certain deadlines for prosecutors wasn't on the books until 2019. In Nathaniel's case, almost nothing happened for the first 18 months, then the pandemic slowed things even more.

"The notion of holding a child for an extended period of time, an extraordinary time ... is unconscionable,” Kristin Henning, the head of the Juvenile Justice Clinic & Initiative at Georgetown Law, tells the Times. Those closer to the case agree. Oyebola's father, who has expressed forgiveness and prayers for Nathaniel, said this during sentencing: "Justice delayed is justice denied. Your delay of this case ... destroyed my faith in the system and showed how insensitive you are and how flawed your system of justice to be." (Read the full article for more on the case.)

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