NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A 13-year-old boy accused of shooting a man in the back during an armed robbery in New Orleans East earlier this year was found guilty by a juvenile judge Tuesday (July 2).
The verdict came after emotional testimony in court from the shooting victim, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Lynell Reynolds was on trial for charges of attempted second-degree murder, armed robbery, illegal use of a weapon and illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile.
Reynolds did not take the stand in his own defense. After being found guilty, the judge asked him if he had anything to say to the victims. However, before Reynolds speak, his public defender told the judge she advised him not to speak.
The judge said she did not think that was good advice.
Back in March, Reynolds and some others drove up in a car next to the victim, Darrelle and another man, who we're walking along Morrison Road.
Reynolds got out of the car with a gun and demanded a dollar.
Darrelle, who took the stand today, told the judge he was shocked by how young Reynolds looked and when they turned to walk away, Reynolds shot the man in the back, robbed him and took off.
Throughout the entire trial, Reynolds’ public defender insisted he was innocent and that the state did not have the evidence it needed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
Chief Judge Candace Anderson said her ruling came down to credibility and she believed Darrelle and the other young man who testified were telling the truth about what happened to them.
Darrelle and his grandmother said the judge made the right decision and they hope the 13-year-old gets the help he needs in jail.
"I know he’s a kid and he’s been through a lot but, there are some things that can’t be undone and there are some things that can’t be forgiven. I mean I forgive him, but in time,” Darrelle said. “What was the point? Now you’re going to be gone for a while and you won’t be able to do what you want to do. You can’t go home. You can’t go have fun. You’re going to be locked away.”
Dorothy White, the victim’s grandmother, said it has been a difficult time for the entire family. In the end, she said she knows both families are hurting.
“My heart goes out to the other family, even with my grandson, and people may say, ‘how you can feel that way?’ Well I do. The main thing is, we just want to move forward with some healing,” White said.
Wanda Soloman is Reynolds’ aunt and legal guardian. In May, she told FOX 8 Reynolds has been through more trauma in his 13 years than most people see in their whole lives. She said when Reynolds was just 5, he witnessed his uncle murder his older brother and sister and then kill himself.
Two years later, Solomon said Reynolds witnessed his mother’s killing and his father being shot in the head.
Solomon said the trouble started when Reynolds was about 8 years old and started stealing cars and breaking into schools. Still, she said her nephew is smart and sweet, but unquestionably troubled.
“Lynell’s been going through a lot. I have to go to school for him all the time. He’s very smart. He’s sweet. That’s why this is like, to me, a separate life he lives,” Solomon said.
Reynolds is facing several other charges here a juvenile court, including another shooting incident. He is scheduled to be sentenced in August, regarding Darrelle’s case.
Following the ruling, District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro issued the following statement:
“There are no winners in a case as tragic as this. There never should be 13-year-olds in our society using guns to rob and shoot people, and one surely hopes that the Office of Juvenile Justice can successfully rehabilitate this teen during his time in custody. But we also must recognize that his time in custody is well deserved. His violent actions left a young man paralyzed, unjustly robbed of full mobility and complete health for the rest of his life. This crime was life-changing for the victim and his family, now cast as caretakers. And that damage is not rendered any less real or permanent by this juvenile gunman’s age.”