Suspect to be tried as an adult
LAFAYETTE — The 15-year-old suspected of killing an Arnaudville man Sunday at a flea market in north Lafayette will be tried as an adult after a grand jury charged him with first-degree murder.
Earl Joseph III was moved Thursday from the Lafayette Juvenile Detention Center, where he had been jailed since his arrest Monday, to the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, where he is being held without bond.
“He will be housed in an area separate from the general population” of adults, said Capt. Kip Judice, of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Joseph will mostly be treated as an adult in the courtroom after the grand jury’s decision Wednesday to indict the Lafayette teen for murder in the death of Michael Patin, 49.
Patin, witnesses told deputies, was shot at around 11 p.m. in the back after he confronted Joseph.
Joseph allegedly was part of a group of six boys who earlier Sunday night used a stolen vehicle to get to Jockey Lots, on the west side of Interstate 49 north of Interstate 10.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to the flea market at 9:14 p.m. about an ongoing theft and were on their way when the boys, trying to get away, hit another vehicle in the lot and fled on foot.
Judice said Thursday that K-9s were called in to search a wooded area behind Jockey Lots, where deputies and Carencro police officers found four of the six youths ages 12 to 16. The fifth teen has not been found or identified.
Investigators believe Joseph was the sixth of the group who was not immediately captured. As deputies were bringing the four youths to the Sheriff’s Office, Joseph returned to the flea market and tried to steal a car.
It was then that Patin confronted Joseph and was killed, authorities have said.
Judice said the captured group of boys later identified Joseph to detectives. All four boys were returned to their parents or guardians and they will be headed to juvenile court on an array of charges.
Joseph, who turned 15 two days before the killing, was arrested at 5:47 a.m. Monday at his home at 613 Parish St., Lafayette.
Lafayette Parish District Attorney Michael Harson said after Joseph was arrested that he was almost sure he would try the 15-year-old as an adult if a grand jury indicted him.
“He will be arraigned within the next 30 days and then we’ll start the process,” Harson said Thursday.
Because of his age, prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty for Joseph.
Also because of his age, Louisiana’s automatic sentences of life in prison without parole for first- and second-degree murder convictions are not automatic. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2012 forced courts to implement sentencing hearings for offenders who were 17 or younger when they committed murder.
“If he’s found guilty, there will be a hearing to find mitigating circumstances that could weigh in on the sentence,” Harson said.
Harson also said prosecutors were able to get the Joseph case to a grand jury quickly, which met Wednesday.
“The Sheriff’s Office investigation was really focused,” Harson said. “We were able to get sufficient evidence to get the grand jury to charge him with the crime.”