Northwest Missouri teen will face reduced murder charge
ST. JOSEPH (AP) - A northwest Missouri prosecutor reduced the murder charge against a 16-year-old accused of killing his grandparents.
The St. Joseph News-Press reported that Joseph Johnson is now charged with second-degree murder in the July 4 deaths of 72-year-old James Johnson and his wife, 76-year-old Beverly Johnson. The teen waived the right to a preliminary hearing during a court appearance Friday.
He was charged with first-degree murder, but Buchanan County prosecutor Dwight Scroggins said that statute needs to be fixed. At issue was a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the state can't seek the death penalty for a juvenile and that in cases involving juveniles there must be an alternative sentence.
Missouri's first-degree murder statute only has one alternative after death and that's life in prison without parole.