Sixteen-year-old Shawn Alexander Jr. faces two counts of attempted murder and two counts of attempted robbery stemming from the throat-slicing of two teenagers on the city’s southeast side last November. The victims were left for dead in an alley but both survived.
Alexander was expected to plead guilty today to every charge before St. Joseph Superior Court Senior Judge William Albright.
But when it came time for Alexander to admit his guilt, he waffled.
Though he conceded he did try to rob the teenagers on the night of Nov. 6, he would not admit that he intended to kill them.
St. Joseph Deputy Prosecutor Joel Gabrielse asked Alexander to state that he understood slicing the throats of the two victims was an act that had substantial risk of causing death.
Alexander responded that his intent was "not to kill anybody."
"That’s going to be a problem, judge," Gabrielse said.
"Yes, we have a problem," Albright said.
A defendant must fully admit guilt in order to enter into a plea agreement with the state.
The judge set Alexander’s next hearing date for Thursday.
John Hosinski, Alexander’s court-appointed public defender, said he was certain his client would fully admit guilt Thursday.
Alexander’s co-defendant and cousin, Demajio Ellis, faced the same charges but pleaded guilty in May and agreed to testify against Alexander. His sentencing is scheduled for June 22, and the state agreed to ask for a sentence of no more than 50 years in prison.
The Calvert Street stabbings caught the community’s attention given the young age of both the victims and suspects and the seriousness of the crime.
Ellis and Alexander told the victims they were gang members of the "Vice Lords." They slashed the throats of their victims and then left them bleeding on the ground.
At the time, Alexander was out of police custody on bond after robbing a local gas station with a shotgun. Ellis was awaiting sentencing on a felony resisting law enforcement case.
In January, Alexander was sentenced to up to 16 years in prison for the gas station robbery.
Staff writer Mary Kate Malone