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PINE BLUFF -- A Pine Bluff teenager, accused of shooting his mother to death in March, has been formally charged as an adult in the killing.

John Kearney, 16, is accused of fatally shooting his mother, April Juarez, 39, after an argument.

Prosecuting Attorney Kyle Hunter confirmed that Kearney has been charged as an adult. Asked what the criteria are for charging a minor in adult court, Hunter said the nature of the crime is the greatest factor in the decision.

"Usually, if it's a violent crime like murder, we'll consider if the juvenile acted as an adult by such actions as pulling the trigger," Hunter said. He added that Kearney's next court appearance will be for plea and arraignment in the Division I courtroom with Judge Alex Guynn presiding. That appearance, he said, will take place either on June 3 or July 1.

"The court will advise him of the charges and find out if he has a lawyer representing him," Hunter said. "If he doesn't have a lawyer and isn't going to hire one, the court will take up the issue of whether or not to appoint one. Once the court determines if a lawyer is on board, he'll set it for trial a few months from now."

According to a probable-cause affidavit, Pine Bluff police were called to Juarez's and Kearney's home at 29 S. Richard Drive in Pine Bluff on March 29 in reference to a shooting. Upon their arrival, they discovered Juarez in a bedroom, shot in the head. Kearney was sitting on a sofa in the living room.

According to the affidavit, a witness told police that Kearney and Juarez got into an argument over Kearney running away and returning home. The witness said Kearney got a handgun out of a trunk at the foot of the bed and shot Juarez.

If convicted, Hunter said, Kearney faces a sentence of 10 to 40 years or life in prison. Because Kearney is a minor, Hunter said, he will be eligible for parole in 25 years if given a life sentence, or in 28 years if he is sentenced to 40 years in prison.

Kearney is being held in lieu of $250,000 bond in the Jefferson County jail.

State Desk on 05/14/2019

Print Headline: Pine Bluff boy, 16, charged as adult in mother's death

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