As family members wept behind him, teen murder suspect Derrell Green simply bowed his head Wednesday after a judge ordered him to be tried as an adult in the killing of a North Charleston schoolmate.
Family Court Judge Judy McMahon said the crime was too serious and there appeared little likelihood that Green could be rehabilitated in the juvenile justice system.
Her decision means that Green, 15, now faces the possibility of several decades behind bars rather than a few years imprisonment if he is convicted of killing 17-year-old Larry Maybank in February.
Green's sister and another woman quickly left the courtroom in tears after McMahon announced her decision. Green, however, showed little emotion. Shackled in jailhouse grays, he hunched over as his attorney whispered a few words in his ear before courthouse security whisked him away.
His next court appearance will be a bond hearing where a circuit judge will consider the possibility of bail on the adult murder charge. That hearing has not yet been scheduled.
Green was 14 years old when he allegedly walked up behind Maybank and fired two bullets into his back with a stolen revolver on North Charleston's Bonds Avenue. The attack occurred just after school let out at Daniel Jenkins Academy, which caters to students with discipline problems.
McMahon's ruling followed a two-day hearing last week to determine whether Green should be waived up to the adult system.
Defense attorneys painted him as a wayward child who was getting his life back on track at the time of the shooting. They argued that he was too young to be exposed to the rigors of General Sessions court and a state prison.
Prosecutors argued that Green was a disruptive, defiant youth who earned a place in the adult system by committing a cold-blooded, execution-style murder.
In her ruling, McMahon said Green came from a stable home and a loving family. She noted that he had a learning disability and suffered from attention deficit disorder, anxiety and other problems.
His previous criminal record was scant, and there were indications that he had improved some of the unruly behaviors that landed him in hot water at school and at home, she said.
But despite a wealth of counseling and other community services, Green continued to hang out with known drug dealers and users in a high-crime area, and he violated his probation by secretly harboring a stolen gun, McMahon said.
In the end, she said, he was implicated in a crime of willful, premeditated murder.
Though Green has expressed remorse for his actions, McMahon said, the community would be put at risk by having him serve a relatively short stint in the juvenile justice system, then be released without supervision at age 21.
His previous track record showed no guarantee that he would benefit from rehabilitation, she said.
Green's public defender, Megan Ehrlich, declined to comment on the ruling, as did Green's mother.
Prosecutors left the courtroom without comment. Neither Solicitor Scarlett Wilson nor Maybank's family could be reached later in the day for their reactions to the ruling.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or email@example.com.