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CRIME Boy, 12, convicted of killing relatives



Published: Mon, February 21, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defense attorney said detectives had coerced the confession.

MARIETTA, Ohio (AP) -- A 12-year-old boy who told authorities he shot his grandmother because she was always putting him down was convicted of killing the woman, along with his aunt, in their mobile home.

Bryan Christopher Sturm, of Lower Salem, had denied killing Nancy Tidd, 61, and aunt Emma Tidd, 40, both of Lowell, on Nov. 22. After two days of deliberations, a juvenile court jury on Saturday convicted the boy on two counts of delinquency by murder.

Sturm will be placed in state custody until he's 21, and prosecutors plan to push for a serious youthful offender designation that could add adult time to his sentence.

What he said

According to an affidavit from the Washington County sheriff's office, Sturm told investigators he shot his grandmother because she was constantly putting him down.

He said he reloaded the single-shot .410 shotgun after accidentally shooting his aunt when she grabbed the shotgun, which he had pointed at the grandmother.

The boy's attorney, Ray Smith, said in closing statements Friday that detectives had coerced the confession. Smith argued a more likely suspect was Nancy Tidd's boyfriend, John Frank Russell, who owned the shotgun and was the beneficiary of the woman's life insurance policy.

"It's very difficult for me, knowing on my watch, he's been found guilty of a crime I don't believe he committed," Smith said Saturday after the verdict. He plans to appeal.

No evidence of coercion

Prosecutor Kevin Rings said there's no evidence the confession was coerced. Detectives ruled out Russell as a suspect early in the investigation.

Sturm got the shotgun out of a locked gun cabinet in the trailer his aunt and grandmother shared, authorities said.

Before the shootings, Sturm missed school and inhaled gasoline fumes, then got a ride to his grandmother's home, where he practiced target shooting at a beer can, police said.

He split his time between his mother's and grandmother's homes in southeast Ohio, officials have said.

Sturm was charged in juvenile court because in Ohio a child must be at least 14 to be tried as an adult.

Rae Ward, the administrator for Washington County Juvenile Court, said a hearing will be held to determine whether Sturm is a serious youthful offender. That designation would enable authorities to keep him in prison past his 21st birthday if he commits a violent offense while incarcerated or if it appears he is not rehabilitated.




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