AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Judges and prosecutors who know Maine's legal system say they can't remember another case where a 10-year old child was charged with the crime of manslaughter.
The 10-year old girl from Fairfield is accused of taking actions that killed a three-month-old baby in July. The girl's mother was babysitting the infant at the time of the death. The case is raising lots of questions in legal circles, because the courts aren't accustomed to dealing with such a serious charge against someone so young.
Former prosecutor and District Attorney David Crook of Waterville says one of the biggest issues in this case will be whether the 10-year old child was really able to understand, at the time, that her actions could harm or kill the baby. But then - if the child is eventually found guilty -- there's the question of a sentence.
"What should a judge do?" said Crook,"And frankly I wouldn't want to be that judge."
He says there is likely to be significant debate about what sort of sentence should be imposed. Crook says punishment really shouldn't be the issue.
Instead, he says the child, if guilty, will need some kind of treatment: "How does the state make this child capable3 of re-entering society as a better child and ultimately a better adult?"
The ten year old is currently in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, but they won't say whether she's in a foster home or some other facility. The first court date is scheduled for late October.