HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG? • "Florida courts have long recognized that there is no absolute right requiring children to be treated in a special system for juvenile offenders." • Florida's broad law allows any person, regardless of age, to be prosecuted as an adult. • Can children knowingly and intentionally commit horrific crimes & understand the impact of their actions? Should they be held accountable in the same manner as adults? Read the facts of this Florida case and judge for yourself.
TIFFANY EUNICK “WRESTLED” TO DEATH. • July 1999. Tiffany Eunick, six years old. 48 lbs., dies after being “wrestled” by neighbor Lionel Tate, 12 yrs old, 160 lbs. Tiffany’s injuries include a lacerated liver, broken ribs and a skull fracture. (Court TV News 7 Nov 2000)
LIONEL’S MOM SLEEPING. • Kathleen Grossett-Tate, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper is Lionel’s mother. • Grossett-Tate had agreed to babysit for Tiffany Eunick, the daughter of her friend & neighbor. • While babysitting, she left the Lionel & Tiffany unattended while she slept. (Court TV News Nov. 2000)
LIONEL TRIED AS ADULT. • Nov. 2000. Tate turns down plea bargain with credit for three years already served, one year of house arrest and 10 years of probation. • Tate is convicted, as adult, of first-degree murder by a jury of 10 women and 2 men. (Court TV News 7 Nov 2000)
TATE GETS LIFE. • Mar. 2001. Tate gets life without parole. • Tate sent to adult prison. Governor later orders him moved to a juvenile jail. • Defense attorneys appeal that Tate shouldn’t have been tried as adult. (Court TV News 7 Nov 2000)
APPEALS COURT REVERSES • Dec. 2003. A three-judge panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeals reverses Tate’s conviction and life sentence. • Court says that Tate’s mental competency should have been evaluated before his trial in 2001. • The boy's lawyers had sought such an evaluation, though only after the conviction for first-degree murder. (NY Times 10 Dec 2003)
COURT RULING AFFIRMS BRUTALITY OF CRIME • In its ruling, the appeals panel wrote, "The evidence was clear that the victim was brutally slain," and, "It would take tremendous force to inflict" the extensive injuries. • "None of the experts, not even those for the defense, theorized that the injuries were consistent with `play fighting' or that they were accidentally inflicted," the ruling said. (NY Times 10 Dec 2003)
CLEMENCY REQUEST • Lionel's lawyers request an expedited clemency hearing that could result in a much shorter sentence. • Gov. Bush delayed action during the appeals due in part to Lionel's problems in prison, which reportedly include kicking a guard and insubordination. (NY Times 10 Dec 2003)
TATE OUT ON BOND • Jan. 2004. Lionel Tate, 17 years old, granted bond and released after three years in prison. • Plea agreement terms have Tate sentenced to 3 yrs.already served, 1 year of house arrest and 10 years of probation -- the same deal he was offered before his trial nearly three years ago. (CNN 27 January 2004)
JUDGE ORDERS TATE RELEASED • Judge Joel Lazarus orders Tate released on his own recognizance. • Tate must wear an electronic monitoring device (CNN 27 January 2004)
TATE VIOLATES PROBATION • 2004. A few months after his release, Tate was caught wandering the streets after his curfew with a 4-inch knife. • Judge Lazarus places Tate, now 17 yrs. on five extra years of zero-tolerance probation for the violation. (Court TV 5 Dec 2005)
TATE ARRESTED AGAIN • May 2005. Tate arrested for allegedly robbing Domino's Pizza deliveryman. • Tate faces a possible life sentence on four charges stemming from the alleged robbery. • Tate also faces unrelated charges of possession of a firearm in early 2005 and criminal mischief while incarcerated for the alleged armed robbery. (Court TV 5 Dec 2005)
TATE SUICIDE LETTER • Dec 2005 Tate attends court hearing on robbery charges. • Judge requests a competency hearing after Tate told judge in a letter that he wants to kill himself and that he’s “hearing voices” (Court TV 5 Dec 2005)
TATE PLEADS GUILTY • Mar. 2006 Tate pleads guilty to armed robbery of pizza deliveryman. • Tate admits that he had violated probation by possessing a gun during the robbery and that he violated laws by doing so. (FoxNews online 1 March 2006)
LEGAL MANEUVERS • Tate has been represented by five different lawyers over the course of his case. • Against the advice of his lawyers, he withdrew the plea in the robbery case but not the gun charge (Associated Press Oct 25, 2007)
TATE SENTENCED TO 30 YRS. • May 2006. Lionel Tate was sentenced to 30 years in prison for violating probation by possessing a gun. • Lawyers will appeal. (Court TV News, 18 May 2006)
ABNORMAL BRAIN? • In July, 2006, Tate’s lawyer requests that Tate undergo a brain scan to check for possible abnormalities caused by a car accident when he was ten yrs. old. • August 2006 results of brain scan show no abnormalities.
JUDGE LAZARUS’ COMMENTS • "The time has come to finalize the tragic events of the summer of 1999. The time has come to lay to rest the anguish of those who remember and love Tiffany Eunich … The appeals courts gave you a new life on December of 2003, a second chance. This court gave you a new life on October 29, 2004, a third chance. In plain English, Lionel Tate, you have run out of chances. You do not get anymore.“ (nbc6 ONLINE. 18 May 2006)
COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE • Oct. 2007. Appeals court upholds 30-year probation violation sentence for Tate. • Stage now set for Tate’s trial on robbery charges that could carry another life term. • (Associated Press 25 Oct. 2007)
2008 TATE ACCEPTS PLEA DEAL • February 2008, Lionel Tate accepts plea deal in pizza robbery • Sentenced to 10 years to be served concurrently with 30 year sentence he’s serving for violating his probation. • Scheduled to get out of jail in 2031 • Tate’s lawyer, Jim Lewis, says 10 years is fair but 30 years is too much for parole violation – he will continue to press for sentence reduction.
REFERENCE PAGE • Alvarado, Francisco. “New evidence in the notorious bad boy’s latest crime”. Aug. 2007. http://wrongful-convictions.blogspot.com/2007/08/free-lionel-tate.html > retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • Associated Press. “Lionel Tate Pleads Guilty to Pizza Robbery”. FoxNews.com online. 1 March 2006. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,186444,00.html >retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • Associated Press. “Lionel Tate Takes Plea Deal, 10-Year Sentence In Pizza Robbery”. NBC 6 online. 19 Feb. 2008. Retrieved 10 Sep. 2008. <http://www.nbc6.net/news/15343661/detail.html> • Grinberg, Emmanuelle. “Lionel Tate says he wants to kill himself; judge orders psych evaluation”. Court TV.Com online. 5 Dec. 2005 http://www.courttv.com/extra/scripts/content.asp?thisURL=/trials/wrestling/120505_ctv.html retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • Skoloff, Brian. “Sentence Upheld for Fla. Child Killer”. Associated Press online. 25 Oct. 2007 http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5ga3YudHA4BE_CXjyHvdhVoi-o1Xg retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • “Lionel Tate released: Florida teenager free after three years in prison”. CNN.COM Law Center. 27 Jan. 2004. http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/01/26/wrestling.death/ retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • “Teen killer Lionel Tate gets 30 years for violating probation”. Court TV News online. 18 May 2006. http://www.courttv.com/trials/news/0506/18_tate_ap.html retrieved 14 Nov. 2007. • “Where it all began: 14-year-old gets life”. Court TV News online. 7 Nov. 2000. http://www.courttv.com/trials/wrestling/background.html Retrieved 22 oct, 2007 • Goodnough, Abby. “Florida Court Orders New Trial for Boy Serving Life Sentence”.New York Times online. 10 Dec, 2003. Retrieved 22 oct, 2007. < http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/10/national/10CND-TATE.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5070&en=95cc17d026e3a0ef&ex=1193284800 > • Canedy, Dana. “Boy Convicted of Murder in Wrestling Death”. New York Times online. 26 Jan. 2001. <http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F00E3D8143FF935A15752C0A9679C8B63&n=Top/Reference/Times%20Topics/People/T/Tate,%20Lionel> Retrieved: 22 Oct 2007. • ‘”Wrestling Death' Verdict Tossed”. CBS News Online. Dec. 10, 2003. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/12/10/national/main587837.shtml Retrieved: 22 Oct. 2007.