Metro-East News

15-year-old faces adult charges of trying to rob, kill man at Fairview Heights apartments

One of two then 14-year-olds accused of shooting a man in the head during an armed robbery in February will face adult charges of attempted first-degree murder.

The St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed the attempted murder charge and armed robbery charges against Nemus Parks, now 15.

State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly on Friday said Parks is the youngest juvenile he has charged as an adult. Cathy MacElroy, Parks’ attorney, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Parks and another teen are accused of shooting Daniel Meitzenheimer, 21, in the forehead with a handgun as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car parked at Longacre Ponds Luxury Apartments on Feb. 7.

After Meitzenheimer was shot, the car sped out of control, eventually hitting a large landscape rock. Parks and the other 14-year-old then dragged him from the car and to the back of one of the apartment buildings, police have said.

A witness told police they heard one of the attackers say, “Check his pockets.”

Police have said they suspect the teens were buying drugs, then tried to rob Meitzenheimer of drugs and cash. During the course of the robbery, the man was shot.

Because Parks was only 14 when the shooting happened, Kelly had discretion whether to charge Parks as an adult or a juvenile. Among the factors that prosecutors are to consider:

▪  the seriousness of the offense;

▪  whether there is evidence the offense was committed in an aggressive and premeditated manner;

▪  whether there is evidence the offense caused serious bodily harm;

▪  whether there is evidence the minor possessed a deadly weapon; and

▪  whether the security of the public requires an adult sentence.

After the trial, the judge or jury will have to find whether Parks is guilty or not guilty. If they find him guilty, they must make additional findings for sentencing. If a firearm is used to commit an attempted murder, then the minimum sentence is 35 years. If a judge or jury finds Parks personally fired the weapon, then the minimum sentence is 40 years. If the judge or jury finds that an attempted murder caused great bodily harm, then the minimum sentence is 45 years.

In juvenile court, the maximum sentence is incarceration until the juvenile’s 21st birthday.

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court found that defendants younger than 18, even if convicted in adult court, could not be sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan wrote that a life sentence for someone younger than 18 was cruel and unusual punishment.

“It prevents taking into account the family and home environment that surrounds him and from which he cannot usually extricate himself no matter how brutal or dysfunctional,” Kagan wrote.

The other 14-year-old’s case proceeded in juvenile court. Records from juvenile court are not available to the public.

Information about Meitzenheimer’s condition was not immediately available Friday, but when asked four days after the shooting, authorities said he had not yet regained consciousness.

Meitzenheimer also is facing unrelated charges in St. Clair County: aggravated unlawful use of a weapon and aggravated fleeing from police. Details of the allegations in those charges, which were filed months before Meitzenheimer was shot, were not available Friday.

Beth Hundsdorfer: 618-239-2570, @bhundsdorfer