Walter Madison, the lawyer for Ma’lik Richmond, one of the teens convicted of raping a 16-year-old girl in Steubenville, Ohio, says he plans to appeal Judge Tom Lipps decision, based on scientific evidence that his client’s brain wasn’t fully developed at the time of the crime. Fully developed enough to what? Know that digitally raping an unconscious girl is wrong?
Madison said on “Piers Morgan Live” that he takes particular issue with Lipps sentencing Richmond to at least one year in a rehabilitation center and the requirement to register as a sex offender, saying, “I don’t believe that a person at 75 years old should have to explain for something they did at 16 when scientific evidence would support your brain isn’t fully developed … when evidence in the case would suggest that you were under the influence.” Keep in mind, Lipps’ sentence also leaves room for Richmond to be removed from the sex offender registration list if he exhibits good behavior in detention.
While neuroscientists do say that teenagers have ”underdeveloped decision processing centers” which lead them to take risks like stealing or trying drugs, I doubt they would argue teens are exempt from understanding that it’s wrong to rape an unconscious girl. Besides, Richmond’s brain seems to be developed enough to understand the implications of having to register as a sex offender — when the verdict was read, Richmond was overheard saying, ”My life is over. No one is going to want me now.” [The Atlantic Wire]