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An Oklahoma teenager accused of killing five family members in July will be prosecuted for first-degree murder as an adult, a Tulsa County district court judge ruled Monday.
Prosecutors charged Michael Bever, 16, with first-degree murder as an adult, though his lawyer sought to have him treated as an adolescent, arguing that the state’s youthful offender statute is unconstitutional.
Bever and his older brother, 18-year-old Robert, stunned suburban Broken Arrow when they allegedly murdered their parents and younger siblings in their home on July 22. Their 13-year-old sister survived, and a two-year-old girl was also found unharmed at the family's home.
Michael Bever's attorney, Rob Nigh told NBC News the law "doesn’t take into account the medical differences between children and adults.”
The development of the brain’s frontal lobe, which effects decision-making, isn’t fully developed in children or teenagers, Nigh said.
"It’s the most highly-functioning part of our brain," he said. "It’s how adults are able to view a set of circumstances and put the brakes on before they do something irrational." In an Oct. 1 court filing, Nigh — Tulsa County's chief public defender — pointed to U.S. Supreme Court decisions to support his position.
The judge, Martha Rupp Carter, disagreed and said the law is constitutional, Nigh said. Nigh said he plans to appeal the decision.
On Monday, the state medical examiner released the horrific details of the killings: Robert and Michael Bever's father, 52-year-old David, suffered at least 28 stabbings and “incise wounds," the autopsy report says.
Their mother, 44 –year-old April, was killed by nearly twice as many "sharp force injuries." Eighteen of them were to her head and neck.
Two younger brothers — a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old — as well as a 5-year-old younger sister, were also stabbed to death, according to the autopsy report.