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Teen in wrestling death to return home

A 17-year-old who was serving life in prison for killing a six year old girl five years ago, will be allowed to return to his mother's home while serving probation, a judge ruled on Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Lionel Tate, the Florida youth once sentenced to life in prison for the death of a playmate, can return to his mother’s home while he serves probation, a judge ruled Monday.

Tate, 17, the youngest person in modern U.S. history to be sentenced to life in prison, was freed earlier this year, but then was accused of violating probation in September.

He was moved to another home, but that family requested that he be removed because the frequent visits by probation officers were too stressful, authorities said.

On Monday, Tate’s legal representative, Howard Greitzer, told the judge the teen wanted to return home.

Broward Circuit Judge Joel Lazarus asked Tate’s mother, Kathleen Grossett-Tate, if she would abide by Tate’s probation rules. Grossett-Tate, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, agreed.

Tate made headlines as a 12-year-old when he was charged with first-degree murder for killing 6-year-old Tiffany Eunick. He was convicted and sent to prison for life without a chance at parole, as required by state law.

Second chance
But he won a new trial on appeal and went free in January under a deal that placed him under court supervision for 11 years.

He was arrested in early September for violating his probation by being out of his home overnight following an argument with his mother. The terms of his probation called for him to remain at home except for school, work or church, unless he has permission from his probation officer.

Last month, a judge added another five years to the 10 years Tate had left on the original probation and warned him that any other problems would land him back in jail.

The judge also allowed Tate to move in with the unidentified Broward County couple because of the problems Tate was having at home.

Tate initially claimed he accidentally killed Tiffany while imitating professional wrestling moves he had seen on television. But prosecutors said the girl was brutally beaten to death.

An appeals court threw out Tate’s first-degree murder conviction last year, ruling he might not have understood the criminal proceedings against him.