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16-year-old suspect in fatal Westroads shooting denied transfer of case to juvenile court

Posted at 12:43 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 13:43:39-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — The District Court of Douglas County denied a motion to transfer the case against 16-year-old Makhi Woolridge-Jones to juvenile court. Woolridge-Jones is a suspect in a fatal shooting at Westroads Mall in April. He is being charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of use of a deadly weapon to commit a felony, and one count of first-degree assault.

In September, the court heard evidence regarding the motion to move the case to juvenile court. A psychologist testified that Woolridge-Jones had a traumatic childhood, which has likely changed his brain.

"He completely thought that if he didn't fire the gun at Trequez (Swift) that he would be killed," Dr. Colleen Conoley told the court. "So he thought his life was in danger at that moment."

Psychologist: Accused 16-year-old Westroads shooter could be rehabilitated in juvenile court

When 3 News Now asked County Attorney Don Kleine why Woolridge-Jones would not be charged as a juvenile, he said that his office felt it "most appropriate" to try the suspect as an adult.

"Juvenile court only has jurisdiction for another couple of years on him. Our statute says that depending on the nature of the charge itself and kind of the history, that’s what goes into whether they should be charged as a juvenile and certainly he fits the criteria to be charged as an adult," Kleine said.

16-year-old suspect in Westroads Mall shooting will be tried as an adult

On Tuesday, District Judge James M. Masteller concluded that the case would stay in Douglas County district court:

"While the Court is mindful that there is no arithmetical computation or formula required in a court’s consideration of the statutory factors, the Court finds that a majority of the factors weigh in favor of the Court retaining this case in District Court. Given the serious nature of the charged offenses, the rehabilitative services and placements provided previously to the Defendant while under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, his age, and the safety and security of the public, the Court finds that the State has met its burden of establishing a sound basis for retention of jurisdiction. Having balanced public protection and societal security against the practical and non-problematic rehabilitation of the Defendant, the Defendant’s Motion to Transfer to Juvenile Court shall be overruled."

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