A convicted murderer who was just 11 when he shot a man with a rifle was released from state supervision Thursday, a day before his 21st birthday.
Nathaniel Abraham was the first person charged with murder to be prosecuted under a 1997 state law that allowed children of any age to be prosecuted as an adult in a serious felony case.
Though convicted as an adult, Abraham was sentenced to juvenile detention with the expectation that he would be released when he turned 21.
More than nine years later as he stood before Oakland County Probate Judge Eugene Moore for his final status hearing, Abraham bore little resemblance to the scared boy whose feet couldn’t touch the ground while he sat at the defense table during his 1999 murder trial.
“Show us all that you have become a caring, productive member of society,” the judge said in granting Abraham’s release.
Abraham has been living in a halfway house in Bay City, 70 miles north of his family in Pontiac.
His attorney, Daniel Bagdade, said Abraham has an apartment in Bay City, where he plans to work in maintenance for a manufacturing company and attend classes at Delta College.
“I’m going to make the best of it,” Abraham told the judge.
Abraham was convicted of second-degree murder in the 1997 death of 18-year-old Ronnie Lee Greene.
Prosecutors at the time said Abraham had hidden the rifle, told people he intended to kill and voiced worry about gangs coming after him. The defense argued the shooting was accidental and that he was aiming at trees and not at Greene.
Abraham’s release follows years in a maximum-security facility and a short stay at a medium-security camp.