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Indiana teen faces August competency hearing in girl’s death

July 17, 2021 GMT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana court will hear testimony next month to determine whether a 14-year-old boy accused in the strangulation death of a 6-year-old girl is competent to stand trial in her killing.

A St. Joseph County magistrate on Friday set an August competency hearing for the teen, who is charged with murder and child molestation in juvenile court in Grace Ross’ death. His name is being withheld because of his age.

At the August hearing, doctors called in by prosecutors and the boy’s attorneys are expected to testify after examining the teen.

If the case goes to trial or the state moves to waive the case to superior or “adult” court, that will happen in September, the South Bend Tribune reported.

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St. Joseph County prosecutors have said they want to see the results of the exams before deciding if they will move to have the boy waived to superior court.

Grace Ross was found dead March 12 in a wooded area in New Carlisle, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Chicago, about two hours after she had been reported missing from the nearby apartment complex where she lived.

An autopsy concluded her death to be a homicide by asphyxiation.

The 14-year-old at first told investigators that the girl had followed him into the woods and then he wandered around and lost track of her.

Police said the boy then referred to “a shadowy man” who, controlling him, made him strangle her with his hands.