13-year-olds accused of slaying to be tried as juveniles

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 3:24 AM PST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT/Gray News) - Three 13-year-old boys from Nebraska are facing first-degree murder charges in two separate cases, one involving the death of another 13-year-old boy.

Lenny Rodriguez, 13, was an eighth grader who died after getting shot on Sept. 29. Investigators say a stranger over the phone arranged a fight with him at Omaha’s Hanscom Park that evening.

“Lenny was very loving, caring, sweet,” his aunt said. “I don’t understand why. He didn’t know them.”

Lenny Rodriguez, 13, was an eighth grader who died after getting shot in September. Two other...
Lenny Rodriguez, 13, was an eighth grader who died after getting shot in September. Two other 13-year-old boys are facing murder charges in relation to his death.(Source: Family photos, WOWT via CNN)

Two 13-year-old boys were recently charged with first-degree murder and other charges in relation to Lenny’s death.

Under Nebraska law, all cases involving those 13 years and younger go to juvenile court without exception. Even if found responsible, they would be free and clear of the charges when they turn 19.

“We can’t really get justice for him. This is not justice. Charging them as a juvenile feels like a slap on the wrist for him,” Lenny’s aunt said.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine wants state lawmakers to change the law and give other options, WOWT reports. He suggests letting a judge decide if a case is heinous enough to be tried in adult court or allowing the state to follow up or monitor the youngster when they turn 19, if it goes to juvenile court.

A third 13-year-old boy in the state is accused of first-degree murder in relation to the Aug. 30 shooting of 19-year-old Alon Reed. Investigators have said the suspect stormed into the victim’s home looking for him and shot him point blank.

“It seems that it might be taken advantage of in regards to certain groups who might have younger people carry on their business, knowing they can’t be prosecuted as an adult,” Kleine said.

All three 13-year-olds, the two accused of murder in Lenny’s case and the one accused in Reed’s case, will be tried as juveniles.

“It’s not fair,” Lenny’s aunt said. “They get to live their life. ... Their parents get to see them. And we never get to see Lenny in this life. He’s gone forever.”