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A 15-year-old Florida teenager who killed a man during a robbery will be prosecuted as an adult to avoid serving a short sentence under the current system, which would require him to be released from prison when he turns 18, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Henry Lee Lewis, who turned 15 last December, faces charges of second-degree murder and armed robbery under the adult court system, according to a report from the Broward County, Southeast Florida, State Attorney’s Office.
Detectives prosecuting the case charged Lee Lewis with killing real estate agent Stefano Barbosa, 37, after abducting him during a robbery in Fort Lauderdale last February.
Broward State’s Attorney Harold F. Pryor said in a statement that the decision to charge the teen as an adult was a difficult one to make.
“This juvenile’s problems are so significant that they require treatment, assistance and services beyond what the juvenile justice system can provide at this time,” Pryor said.
If the case were handled as a juvenile matter, Lee Lewis, a student at Cross Creek Public School in Pompano Beach, would have to be released at age 18, the District Attorney’s Office said.
The maximum period of commitment available in the juvenile justice system is 36 months before release, Pryor explained.
According to Detective Orlando Almanzar, from the city of Fort Lauderdale, 75 kilometers (47 miles) north of Miami, a surveillance video showed how Lee Lewis abducted Barbosa outside a home and drove him into the latter’s car.
He then forced him to drive to an ATM and ordered him to make two $500 withdrawals. He later shot him.
According to Almanzar, Lee Lewis was in the passenger seat when he shot and killed the real estate agent.
“Any juvenile charges would mean that the person would be released after three years in the system and could only remain under supervision in the community until age 21,” the District Attorney’s Office remarked in the release.