Young brother gets life for accidentally killing a little sister during play.

by Daniel Odulo 03.20.2001

Young brother Lionel Tate gets sentenced, even against the wishes of the prosecutor, to life in prison for accidentally killing a 6-year-old little sister during play at 12 years of age. During trial little Lionel was deemed too young to make the plea bargain decision by himself, which would have given him 3 years in juvenile detention and 10 years probation, but the judge did not to think that he is too young to be placed in the brutal adult prison system at now 14 years of age.

Lionel was sentenced to life in prison on March 9, 2001 for body-slamming his friend Tiffany Eunick to death in his Pembroke Park home in 1999. The kids were imitating professional wrestling moves. Lionel certainly didn't mean to hurt Tiffany, but the judge blocked the attorney from showing lengthy wrestling videos to the jury or forcing professional wrestlers to testify. With the defense crippled, the jury rejected that defense.

Jim Lewis, Tate's attorney, said a notice of appeal will be filed this week in addition to a request for clemency with the governor. The prosecutor in the case, Ken Padowitz, suggested the sentence was too harsh and said he will recommend the boy's sentence be reduced, but he would not say by how much. Gov. Jeb Bush said Tuesday, March 13, he will consider speeding up the clemency process for Lionel Tate.

On Monday, March 12, the boy was quietly transferred from the intake section of an adult prison to a maximum-security juvenile prison. "He will be kept with 47 other boys convicted of violent crimes," said Catherine Arnold, a spokeswoman with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The sad fact is, had Lionel been a rich, white kid, he may have gotten counseling and perhaps probation. Consider the case of Kennedy nephew Michael Skakel who, at the age of 15, bludgeoned to death Martha Moxley, his neighbor, in 1975. All we can do now is pray to the young brother and reach out to Governor Jeb Bush for mercy.