Teen, 14, to be tried as adult for murder
By Nicole White nwhite@herald.com
The Miami Herald, June 30, 2001

Alexander Bedford, the 14-year-old charged with fatally stabbing his mother in February, will be tried as an adult on first-degree murder charges. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Alexander Bedford has confessed to stabbing his mother, Juanita Bedford, inside their home because his mother had told him to fetch an extension cord and prepare for a whipping.

The grand jury returned the indictment this week on Bedford, who has confessed to stabbing his mother, Juanita Bedford, inside their home at 11625 NW 22nd Ave. because his mother had told him to fetch an extension cord and prepare for a whipping.

Juanita Bedford, 37, a teacher's aide to the physically disabled at Miami Edison Senior High, had been having some difficulties disciplining her son, friends said at the time of the slaying.

Bedford is the third South Florida teen in two years to be charged with first-degree murder.

Lionel Tate is serving a life sentence for the July 28, 1999, death of his 6-year-old playmate Tiffany Eunick. At the time of the killing, Tate was 12. Nathaniel Brazill, the now 14-year-old Palm Beach teen, was indicted on a first-degree murder charge for the 2000 shooting of teacher Barry Grunow. A jury convicted him of second-degree murder in May.

Bruce Winick, a professor of law at the University of Miami, suggests it is unlikely Bedford will be sentenced to life in prison.

``I hope the judge considers his tender age, but what happens to him will depend on what defenses are raised during his trial,'' said Winick, who said he is against juveniles being tried as adults, regardless of the crime.

It took four months, an unusual length of time, for the prosecutor's office to present the case to a grand jury.

``We took our time because both sides were looking at things that might justify keeping him in the juvenile system,'' said prosecutor Leon Botkin.

Bedford is scheduled to be arraigned Monday before Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Gill Freeman.

Initially, Bedford told police that an intruder wearing dark pants and a white shirt stabbed his mother through the heart with a seven-itch kitchen knife. His story soon unraveled and he was arrested at a relative's home the next day.

Bedford, a student at Westview Middle School, later told detectives that he had planned the murder of his mother that day as he sat in class. He hoped with her death he could live with his aunt.

The Department of Children and Families would not confirm whether it received reports of abuse at the home.

However, Stephen Harper, the former head of the juvenile unit in the public defenders' office, said there is a history of abuse in almost all cases of a child killing a parent.

``There is usually some underlying trauma,'' said Harper, who would not comment on this particular case. ``Rarely, rarely, does a child kill a parent out of plain cold-blooded anger. There is usually abuse or some serious trauma.''

Bedford's attorney, Roderick Vereen, could not be reached for comment Friday, but has previously said his client has the mind of a third-grader. Bedford's family has remained silent, Vereen said, concerned their comments might unfairly affect the case.

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