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Lawyer wants murder co-defendant prosecuted as juvenile

Wesley Bankston was scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Thursday, but the court must now consult with the Office of Juvenile Affairs before determining whether he will be prosecuted as an adult.

As previously reported, Bankston's attorney, Ken Sue Doerfel, filed a motion in April asking for the teen to be certified as a child rather than an adult when answering the two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of first-degree murder the state filed Jan. 30   just three days before his 18th birthday.

According to an order filed Thursday, the court determined Doerfel's motion was filed within the appropriate time frame and has ordered OJA officials to prepare a report about Bankston's potential amenability in the juvenile system before proceeding with a preliminary hearing. 

The laws pertaining to children in the Oklahoma statutes state that juveniles charged with serious crimes may be charged as an adult or child depending on the crime and the age of the defendant at the time of its commission. The focus of juvenile justice is on rehabilitation.

Typically, defendants are charged as youthful offenders, and the court later determines whether he or she will be adjudicated as an adult or a child. Bankston, in accordance with state law, was automatically charged as an adult, but Doerfel is asking for him to be certified as a youthful offender.

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