A Berrien County teenager accused of shooting and killing her boyfriend will face charges as an adult.
17-year-old Destiny Coulson is facing 2nd degree murder in the death of her live-in boyfriend, 21-year old David Quinn, Jr.
Police say Coulson killed Quinn this past January after a night of drinking and fighting in his home near Eau Claire.
Because Coulson was 16 at the time of the crime, there was a court hearing Wednesday morning to decide if she should be tried as an adult.
Judge Thomas Nelson presided over the hearing. He is required by law to take 6 factors into consideration when deciding whether or not a juvenile should face adult charges and sentencing. In this case, the Judge said although Coulson had no past criminal record and has been a model inmate so far, the seriousness of the crime had a major impact on his decision.
Coulson, who turned 17 in March, remained motionless and emotionless during Wednesday’s entire court proceeding. Three witnesses testified, including the victim's father, the defendant's mother and a juvenile justice center employee.
The judge was told that Coulson had dropped out of school in 8th grade, had no job, no driver's license and was receiving public assistance for a mood-disorder. The prosecutor's office also claims Coulson has mental issues and has a substance abuse problem, involving marijuana and alcohol. The prosecutor recommended Coulson be moved to adult court because she would receive more help for her problems.
Quinn's father David Quinn, Sr. took the stand Wednesday testifying that David was big-hearted, kind, and his only child and only son. Berrien County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Szwabowski asked Quinn, Sr., "What has his loss meant to you and his mother?" Quinn fighting back tears answered, "It's pretty much devastated our family."
Quinn, Sr. encouraged Judge Nelson to have Coulson face the charges in this case as an adult. "Justice for us would mean that she would be detained long enough so that she couldn't do this to someone else."
Jeanine Ernsberger, Coulson's probation officer, also testified and recommended Coulson be waived to adult court because of the seriousness of the crime and because of her prior juvenile delinquency behavior. Ernsberger testified that Coulson dropped out of school in December of 2009 when she was in 8th grade. Her school records indicate she skipped school often, was disrespectful to teachers and was suspended 9 times.
Defense Attorney Lanny Fisher argued that Coulson should remain in the juvenile court system. "She is a child, making child-like choice," Fisher says. Fisher added that Coulson had no previous criminal record and was only acting out in school as many kids that age do. The juvenile court system only can maintain oversight of juveniles until they reach the age of 21. Then, their records are wiped clean.
Ultimately, Judge Nelson ruled, "The adult system can better offer what she needs and provide appropriate consequences for any non-compliance with the treatment and also keep the community safe."
Judge Nelson also said by waiving her to adult court, it would send a strong message to other young people.
Destiny Coulson was arraigned on adult charges in this case and if convicted, faces up to life in prison. Her bond was continued at $500,000 cash assurity. Coulson was staying at the Juvenile Detention Center and is now being held at the Berrien County Jail.
The evidence against Coulson is strong. Police say she confessed to the crime. Defense Attorney Fisher says he plans on discussing plea options with Coulson.
Her next court date is June 15 before Judge Gary Bruce.