Stolo Street

A young girl. A stolen pickup. A tragedy on Evans Avenue.

But the landlady at the Murphys' old apartment isn't giving up. "They got decoys out," she says two days after the police press conference. "I hope they go for them."

For about two months, Dominick has been in the juvenile jail, only about a mile from the spot where Ketrease was hit. Each day he puts on green prison clothes, part of a color system that helps staff keep younger boys segregated and safe from the older children.

Brian Stauffer
Jennifer Silverberg

During the day Dominick attends the jail school, eats lunch in the jail cafeteria, exercises in an old gym, attends computer class and is allowed to check out books from a small library. At night he is locked into an eight-by-twelve-foot cell, a thin green mat sandwiched between his body and the steel bed, which is bolted to the floor. His family visits on approved days, his lawyer keeps him posted on his case and a deputy juvenile officer interviews him for evaluations that will be given to the court in the form of an official report.

Even before he wound up in jail, Dominick's life was less than perfect. His grandmother, Shirley Nash, says he has lived with her since he was born, though she adds that his mother has also been a part of his life. Court records paint a brief but troubled picture of the mother, Kimberly Nash. In 1987 she was convicted of possessing a controlled substance. There's an outstanding warrant out for her arrest in a misdemeanor assault case filed in the St. Louis Circuit Court involving two neighborhood kids. She allegedly tried to hit one with a cordless phone and choked another.

Though Kimberly Nash had some scrapes with the law, Shirley says Dominick hasn't had the same sort of problems: "I don't say he's not bad, you know, like normal kids is, but he never in his life been in jail, never been in any trouble."

The only trouble he might have gotten into, she says, was at school. But "he never hurt nobody." And he's not, she says, responsible for Ketrease's death.

"My baby's innocent!" she insists. "He wasn't driving the car. If he had any kinda' way to get into the truck or into trouble, he would have been hurt. As a matter of fact, they'da been in the grave together.

"He don't even know too much," she maintains. "He's just a child; he's got a learning disorder."

Besides, she adds, when the accident happened he was home with her.

And back at home is where she thinks Dominick ought to be. At a status conference on November 17 in St. Louis Circuit Judge Thomas Frawley's courtroom, Dominick's court-appointed attorney, Daniel Underwood, asks the court for such an order.

Today Underwood comes to court without his client. Because the hearing is an administrative one, Dominick hasn't been summoned from the jail next door. But his mother, grandmother and two other women attend. Kimberly takes a seat next to Underwood at the counsel table. Shirley and the other women sit in chairs right behind the table.

The case has stalled because the police report isn't yet completed, but the prosecutor states that she will ask for certification in Dominick's case. In order to grant certification -- which means Dominick would be tried as an adult -- the judge considers ten factors, including the seriousness of the offense; whether the crime was committed against a person or property; whether there is a pattern of offenses by the child; the child's record, history and age; whether the court thinks the child can benefit from treatment or rehabilitation; and local racial disparity in certification decisions. (If the certification were to be granted, the case would be sent to adult criminal court where, if Dominick is convicted, he'd serve his sentence until age seventeen in a detention center run by the Division of Youth Services. Then he'd be brought back before the judge, who could suspend the rest of his sentence or send him to an adult institution.)

But until the police report is finished, Underwood won't know how best to convince a judge that his client must be tried as a child. Frawley continues the case to December 8. By then, he hopes, the report will be ready.

With the scheduling ironed out, Underwood speaks up. "I've got the family here today with me," he tells the judge. "They would strongly urge his release. They feel like they could control him." He requests that custody be awarded to Dominick's "mother, grandmother or aunt."

The prosecutor counters: "I oppose it on the grounds that we are seeking certification for murder two."

When the judge denies the request, one of the women sitting behind Underwood buries her face in her hands.

December 8 comes and goes with no police report. Dominick remains in jail, and the judge approves a psychological evaluation. Shirley Nash is incredulous: "They have no evidence, no police report -- they can't just take him."

Shirley Nash says her grandson cries day and night. In a phone interview, she blames "those people on Evans" for putting the boy behind bars. "They all some kin and everything," she says, and he's in jail as the result of an unrelated feud over a stolen car that involved Dominick and Ketrease's brother.

« Previous Page
Next Page »