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Lawyers for teen accused of murdering 13-year-old want case moved to Family Court

Thirteen-year-old Jean Sanchez is charged with killing Iraqi refugee Ameer Al Shammari last May and sexually assaulting him during the murder.

Prosecutors say there is solid evidence including DNA.

The defense wants the case tried in Family Court which would allow for a much shorter sentence and be closed to the public.  Attorney Frank Housh is challenging the state law which allows a 13-year-old to be tried and sentenced as an adult if convicted of murder.

Prosecutor Paul Parisi says the Al Shammari family wants a public trial.

"They do not consent to the removal to Family Court," Parisi says "Their grief is overwhelming. Every day, they have to think about their youngest son, their 13-year-old son, their baby who is no longer with them, who can no longer be with them, when they came over from Iraq to get away from this. They do not consent to the move to Family Court and they are demanding that this case be heard in open and a public forum."

If tried in Family Court, the maximum sentence might be eight years. Meanwhile, if Sanchez was tried as an adult before Erie County Judge Sheila DiTullio, he could be sentenced to a life term in which a defendant might spend decades in prison.

The case is due back in court on January 7.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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