Teen charged in death of Indiana girl moving closer to trial

August 16, 2022 GMT

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A teenage boy accused of killing a 6-year-old northern Indiana girl is moving closer to a possible trial after a judge declined to dismiss charges in the case and doctors found him competent to stand trial.

St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Sanford denied a motion Friday to dismiss the murder and child molestation charges the 15-year-old suspect faces in Grace Ross’ March 2021 slaying. Sanford also ruled that the case should continue in adult court.

The case now appears headed for a possible bench trial as doctors who evaluated the boy recently declared him fit to stand trial, the South Bend Tribune reported.

Sanford appointed two additional doctors in May to evaluate the teen at the request of his attorneys, who had sought to have him declared legally insane at the time of the slaying.

During a Monday hearing, Sanford said both doctors determined the youth is able to understand the proceedings and competent to stand trial. The teen’s next court appearance is Sept. 16.

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Authorities have said the youth molested and killed Ross, whose body was found in a wooded area behind the New Carlisle apartment complex about 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of Chicago where they both lived.

The boy has told police a “shadowy man” controlled him and made him strangle Ross after she had followed him into the woods, according to court documents.