The question: is he competent to stand trial?
Eight-year-old Johnnie Lee Morris held tight to his mother during his competency hearing Tuesday afternoon. In front of him, his lawyer Erica White tells the judge the child does not fully understand the nature of the charges against him: four felonies and one misdemeanor for allegedly hitting a teacher and others after a fight with another student.
C. Erica White says, “We believe that the best place for him to have treatment or have his emotional issues addressed is the educational system."
Two experts who evaluated the boy agree. One said it would be years, at age 12, before that would be possible.
Judge Raplh Smith stated, "If you're in agreement, the certain, the case is being dismissed, then the court dismisses the case.”
With those words, charges are dropped. The family rejoices.
Erma Morris, Johnnie's mother, says, "I'm just joyful; it's been a long, hard journey. I'm just glad it's over."
Now, with one hurdle crossed, the family looks ahead.
Johnnie says, "I'm happy that I'm going back to school."
Johnnie's mother says he will finish this school year at his current school, take the summer off, and in the fall it will be back to school like any other eight-year-old.
The attorney for Johnnie Lee Morris says there is the potential for civil litigation. His family is seeking legal counsel.