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Decision on trial venue for boy, 17, up to judge

Prosecutor cites instances of violence by John Lynch | May 5, 2021 at 2:01 a.m.
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Pulaski County Circuit Judge Cathi Compton is considering the future of a teenager whose uncle was shot to death after the pair reportedly broke into a Little Rock home searching for a stolen gun.

The issue for the judge is whether Corey Chadwick Click Jr. should stand trial as an adult or whether he should be prosecuted in juvenile court where he already has a case pending. Compton, who is required to make written findings about her decision, said she would rule in the coming days after hearing testimony Tuesday from police and Click's family.

Click, 17, is charged as an adult in two incidents last year. He faces charges of residential burglary and terroristic threatening over accusations that when he was 16 in May 2020, Click and his uncle Chesrick Martin forced their way into a Ludwig Street home looking for Martin's pistol, which had been stolen along with Martin's pickup. Martin, 39, was killed in the home by the 16-year-old boy who police say had taken Martin's truck. The boy was cleared of wrongdoing for shooting Martin, saying the man had cornered him in the closet where he was hiding.

Click was arrested again in December after a fellow student at Little Rock Southwest High School identified Click as the long-haired robber who mugged him in a school restroom.

The robber had put the 15-year-old boy in a chokehold and thrown him to the floor then kicked him before stealing his money, $1,075. Click and the younger boy had been strangers before that day, police said. School surveillance video showed Click had been in the restroom when the boy was attacked.

Deputy prosecutor Robbie Jones called on the judge to retain jurisdiction over Click, saying the teen's lifestyle choices showed Click wanted to be treated as an adult.

Jones further argued that there was little the juvenile system could do for the teen in the few years he would be in custody. The rehabilitative programs that are available would diminish severely once Click turns 18 later this year, the prosecutor said. Further, the juvenile system can retain custody of Click only until he turns 21 in October 2024, he told the judge.

Click's crimes deserve prosecution in adult court, the prosecutor said. They are violent and show premeditation and wilful behavior, Jones said, describing how Click "stalked" his schoolmate before ambushing the boy while he washed his hands.

In the case with his uncle, witnesses described Click as the one who kicked down the door of the home so he and his uncle could go inside, while police have a recording of Click telling Martin's widow how he broke in, despite Martin telling him not to, according to police testimony.

Martin's truck had just been stolen. Click and Martin had found it -- with the gun missing -- parked outside the Ludwig home. Discovering the gun missing from the vehicle, Martin knocked on the door of the residence but got no answer. Martin and Click then forced their way in, with witnesses telling police that Click threatened to kill everyone inside if he didn't get his stuff back and made a gang oath.

The prosecutor further urged the judge to consider that Click already had been arrested twice before the school robbery. The teen was first arrested in April 2020 over allegations he had threatened one of his sisters while having a gun, a case now pending in juvenile court. Click was arrested on the burglary charges involving his uncle's death in September and released on bond about five weeks before the robbery, court records show.

The charges against Click are violent, Peggy Egan, his lawyer, acknowledged, asking the judge to give Click a chance at rehabilitation. But they are the crimes of impulse not depravity, the public defender said. Impulsive behavior stems from the still-developing brains of young people like Click, a fact that science has established and the courts have recognized, Egan said.

She said the question for the judge is where she wants Click's brain to mature, in prison or in the rehabilitative custody of the juvenile-justice system.

Click also asked the judge for another chance, telling her that what he's gone through in jail, the forced separation from his family, and what he's seen in jail -- "grown men who have thrown their lives away" -- have given him new perspective about how he wants to live his life.

Reading a statement to the judge, Click apologized for the actions that landed him to court, saying he has learned about how his actions have consequences for himself and others. Click said he wants to make something of his life if he can get another chance to do so.

Testimony on Click's behalf came from his father, Corey Click Sr., 44; mother Cherrill Key, 43; sister, Lacorsha Click, 23; and grandmother Rita Powers, 66.

Together, they described an essentially good-hearted young man raised in a close-knit family that struggled sometimes with domestic violence and mental-health with financial difficulties that sometimes resulted in the utilities being turned off and not enough food in the home.

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