16-Year-Old Arrested for Shooting Minors at Bus Stop
September 14, 2022 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes Social Share
When an individual under the age of 18 gets arrested for a crime, it is likely that they will go through the juvenile criminal process. However, in some extreme cases, a juvenile can be tried as an adult.
A recent case in Florida involving three people under the age of 18 may be heading to criminal court, not juvenile. We will cover the details of the shooting, along with getting charged as an adult in Florida.
What was the Incident?
Emmanuel Morales, 16, has been arrested after he shot two 12-year-olds at a local bus stop in Northwest Miami-Dade. According to Miami-Dade Police, Morales approached the two minors regarding their cellphones.
“They are only 12 years of age, were waiting for the bus to be taken to school when the subject—that is only 16 years of age—approached them, armed with a gun and demanded their cellphones,” Miami-Dade Police detective Argemis Colome said of the incident.
Colome said that after the two young teens refused to hand over their phones, Morales began shooting and then took off running. One of the victims was shot in the thigh and in the ankle. The other victim was hit in the thigh and in the hand.
One of the victims—Gosue Cameus—managed to run back home and tell his family what happened. His sister Shelsee Cameus was the one who opened the door to her brother. She said she opened the door and Gosue, “just fell into [her] arms and said, ‘I got shot.’”
“I didn’t know what to do, so I dragged him into the kitchen, and I was [trying to] find, like, anything that I could find to put pressure on the wounds,” Shelsee said. “He said, ‘ice, ice, it’s hurting,’ so I got ice out of the freezer and put it and called 911.”
Cameus was taken to the hospital and treated for his two gunshot wounds. Both victims were reported to be in stable condition at the Jackson Memorial Hospital.
The police issued a manhunt to search for the shooter, both in the air and on the ground. Perimeters were set up by detectives and they informed people in the area to call if they noticed any suspicious behavior.
“That definitely helped us out,” Detective Colome said. “[Someone] called the information in and said, ‘Hey, we see someone running through our backyard.’ So, we want to thank those individuals that did get involved and called 911 and gave us the information.”
When the suspect was tracked down, police also found a rifle and two handguns at the site. Morales has now been charged with attempted felony murder with a firearm, along with other charges.
“This gun violence, it has to be stopped,” Cameus said. “There’s no reason why a kid should get access to a weapon and hurt somebody.”
Charged as an Adult in Florida
Prosecutors revealed on Friday morning that they plan to charge Morales as an adult for the shootings. That means that even though Morales is only 16 years old, if convicted he would have to go to prison with inmates of 18 years of age or older.
Florida allows prosecutors to charge minors in an adult court if they go through a process called a “direct file.” About 98% of minors prosecuted in adult criminal court are sent there through a direct file. That means the defendant’s case has been filed directly with the adult court.
As it stands today, a state attorney can issue a “direct file” for 14- and 15-year-olds who have been charged with the following charges:
Furthermore, in Florida, 16- and 17-year-olds can be direct filed to adult court when they have been charged with a misdemeanor and have two or more previous convictions. To read more on minors charged as adults, view our blog post here.
Legislating Minors Charged as Adults
In February 2021, Sen. Randolph Bracy attempted to pass SB 474, which would raise the minimum age for charging an adult for lesser felonies to be 17 years old.
Within the bill’s opening, Bracy included a passage from author Bryan Stevenson which referred to the “severity of what happens when you send children to adult prisons.” Bracy said, “When you talk about rehabilitating children, it’s almost impossible when they go to an adult prison. Recidivism is almost assured because of the trauma that happens when they go to an adult prison.”
Unfortunately, SB 474 died in Rules, but that is not stopping Florida from working with young teens who have been accused of a crime. HB 195 and HB 197 were signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis earlier this year, which focus on expunging the criminal record and charges of minors who have successfully completed diversion programs.
You can read more about the two bills that were signed in our blog post here.
Statistics on Minors Tried as Adults
Between 2008 and 2013, there was an average of 2,420 minors in Florida who were prosecuted adult court and tried as adults. According to Human Rights Watch, 59% of the minors charged as adults were accused of nonviolent crime, 39% of the minors charged as adults were accused of violent felonies, and another 39% were charged due to property crimes such as burglary.
Prosecutors are not required to justify or explain their reason for trying a minor as an adult in court. It is typically due to the seriousness of the crime, or the size of the city they live in. One of the main differences between getting charged as a juvenile versus an adult is that, unlike juvenile records—which become sealed when the defendant reaches 24 or 26—an adult felony conviction will stay on the person’s criminal record for life.
The best way to strategize a strong defense for a juvenile accused of a crime is to work with a skilled Florida defense attorney in your area.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
Criminal charges are incredibly serious in Florida. This is especially true for a minor who is unaware of the legal system and its process. If you or a loved one are a minor who has been accused of a crime, prioritize seeking out the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee, FL. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have represented clients across the state of various ages and for various criminal charges. We vow to stand by your side and work towards earning your freedom. Call (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message for a free consultation today.
Written by Karissa Key