Thursday, 18 April 2002
Judge rules teen competent for trial in mother's death
By Patty Machelor
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
Elgin teen-ager Jonathan McMullen has been found competent for trial in the September shooting death of his adoptive mother, schoolteacher Kristina McMullen.
McMullen, who is 16 and reportedly has fetal alcohol syndrome, has been charged as an adult on a count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
His attorney, Robert Hooker, said the state has offered a plea to manslaughter and two counts of aggravated assault, but that nothing has been settled. If McMullen accepts, he would serve a seven-year sentence in adult prison.
Police accuse McMullen of shooting his mother seven times with a small-caliber rifle that was in the family's home, about 55 miles southeast of Tucson. He's also charged with shooting his adoptive father, Andrew McMullen, and younger brother, Jack, during the same attack Sept. 6.
No hearing dates are scheduled.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael Brown considered the evaluations of two psychiatrists before ruling Tuesday, court records show.
Hooker said the doctors both found McMullen could understand legal proceedings with an attorney's assistance, and could assist in his own defense.
Hooker said he is frustrated the state is prosecuting McMullen as an adult.
"They made the decision, before they knew anything about him, to prosecute him as an adult," Hooker said. "The victims don't want it. The doctors don't want it. I don't think the judge wants it. The only one who wants it is the prosecutor."
Deputy Santa Cruz County Attorney Marc Offenhartz did not return phone calls Wednesday.
Andrew McMullen has an unlisted number and could not be reached for comment.
Hooker would like McMullen to serve time in juvenile detention, where he could receive some help for his disorder. If McMullen's case went through the juvenile court system, he would be released at age 18.
"Both of the doctors said that what Jonathan did was something over which he had no control, and that it was because of a disorder over which he had no control," Hooker said, referring to McMullen's fetal alcohol syndrome.
Teresa Kellerman, director of Tucson's FAS Community Resource Center, said people with fetal alcohol syndrome function poorly because their "social and emotional development is arrested."
"The nature of FAS is that it's brain damage. Their ability to make good decisions is impaired and it's not curable,'' said Kellerman, whose 24-year-old adopted son has fetal alcohol syndrome.
Kellerman, 55, said while the disorder is not an excuse for behavior, it should be considered in processing McMullen's case.
"We have to look at how we hold him accountable, and it's certainly not as an adult," she said.
In January, a 13-year-old Benson teen who was found to have conspired in Kristina McMullen's shooting was sentenced to five years in juvenile detention.
The Star is withholding the teen's name because of his age - he was 12 at the time of the murder - and because he was prosecuted as a juvenile.
Shooting defendant's friend charged; link with Cochise County slaying eyed
TUCSON - An Elgin mother allegedly shot by her 15-year-old son was hit six times, according to an autopsy.
A report said Kristina McMullen, 56, was killed by a bullet in the back of her head.
Jonathan McMullen was being held in Santa Cruz County Jail in lieu of $1 million bond on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder. Authorities said he will be tried as an adult.
Andrew McMullen, 55, was shot twice, and Jonathan's 13-year-old brother, Jack, was wounded at least once. The elder McMullen was in satisfactory condition yesterday, but the boy remained in critical condition.
After the shootings, the youth took off with a friend in the family car with a 12-year-old friend. He was captured 60 miles away in Willcox.
On Monday, the friend was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Already charged with hindering prosecution and unlawful use of an automobile, he was being held at the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Court Center.
Meanwhile, Santa Cruz County Attorney Martha Chase said the 12-year-old, whose name wasn't released, may have been a witness to a killing in Cochise County.
WIDOWED MAN FORGIVES
ADOPTIVE SON FOR ATTACK
An Arizona man widowed and wounded in a shooting at his Elgin home has forgiven the adoptive son charged in the attack. Andrew McMullen said he has not turned his back on 15-year-old Jonathan McMullen, accused of murder and attempted murder. "Adoption is permanent," the 55-year-old investment banker said. "Nothing will change my mind about that."
The teen-ager was one of three brothers from troubled backgrounds fostered and later adopted by McMullen and his wife, Kristina, reported "The Arizona Daily Star." She was shot dead Sept. 6, when McMullen was shot in the face and 12-year-old Jack - one of the other brothers - was left critically wounded.
"There's more there than meets the eye," McMullen said, reported the "Star." "We believe nothing is beyond the forgiveness of God. Breaking a rule has natural consequences. They have to occur in every situation. But there's also mercy, and the Bible has more to say about mercy than justice."
Gail Leland, director of the local Homicide Survivors Inc. group, said: "This is rather an unusual circumstance, but it's also an unusual family. I think their faith is very strong. It's what's holding them, together." The McMullens have attended Mountain View Assembly of God Church in Sierra Vista. Kristina McMullen's sister, Suzanne Floress, said: "Jonathan was adopted into this family, good or bad, and we still love him and forgive him."