Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
A 14-year-old girl before the courts on a murder charge gave birth yesterday, raising concerns in her community about whether she was being properly monitored by the state.
The teen is charged with the murder of 21-year-old Chrissann Wilson, better known as 'Angel', in July of last year. Wilson was two months pregnant.
When The Gleaner visited her community in Southside, central Kingston, upset residents were in a heated discussion about the matter and called for the Child Development Agency (CDA) to get involved.
"This is slackness! Dem must coulda check her out an mek sure she under control!" one irate woman declared.
"This need a investigation. Mi waan know wah CDA doing 'bout it and how dem allow it fi happen. Imagine, she pregnant while she a guh court and you a tell me nobody neva know?" a neighbour of the teen added.
The teen reportedly returned to her community after she was released on bail. According to the residents, she was in a relationship with an adult male, who is said to be the father of her child.
Last year, the teen reportedly had an ongoing dispute with Wilson, who is also from the community. On the evening of Thursday, July 21, 2011, the two were on Tower Street in central Kingston when an argument developed. The teen, 13 at the time, reportedly stabbed Wilson in the neck.
Wilson later died at the Kingston Public Hospital while undergoing treatment. The teen fled the area, but was later arrested and charged along with her mother, who the police believe sought to cover up the murder.
MOTHER ALSO CHARGED
The teen was charged with murder, while her mother, a 37-year-old hairdresser, was charged with conspiracy to murder and accessory after the fact.
The teen was released on bail in her father's custody. However, in January, she was rearrested and brought before the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court following a fight with another girl in which she bit off a piece of the girl's ear.
Her bail was extended after her father told the court that he was willing to stand surety.
The murder case is ongoing.
Ricardo Sandcroft, an attorney-at-law who specialises in child rights and family law matters, said when the teen was brought before the courts the judge should have looked at her situation, not only for the crime but as a child needing the intervention of the Child Care and Protection Act, and invoked the involvement of the CDA.
"Without the court getting the CDA involved, it would be unfair to say they should have been supervising her actions and whereabouts because it doesn't appear that they were brought in at all," Sandcroft told The Gleaner.
He said what needs to happen now is that the teen and her father should be brought before the court, and the father answer to her circumstance since she was placed in his custody. The teen, he said, should also be placed in state care under the Child Care and Protection Act.
FATHER COULD BE IN TROUBLE
"When she was given bail, there would have been certain bail conditions under the Bail Act that her father should have adhered to," he said.
He added that the father of her child should be charged with carnal abuse.
According to retired Justice Henderson Downer, acting children's advocate, once she was placed in the custody of the father, he would have been legally responsible for her.
Downer added that the state would have only got involved if she was appointed a legal aid.
The Gleaner sought a reaction from the CDA but there was no response to an email request.