Nathaniel Jamal Abraham -- kid or killer? Or both?

We have a case here of an 11-year-old black kid who shot and killed an 18-year-old black man in Pontiac, Michigan. That much of the story is not disputed.

Under Michigan law, the prosecutors tried Abraham as an adult, and a jury found Abraham guilty of second-degree murder. The judge in the case, on the other hand, decided to sentence Abraham to the maximum penalty available under juvenile law – detention in a “juvie” facility until Abraham turns 21, at which time he will be released, and his criminal record expunged.

Was justice served? Did Nate Abraham do the deed? Should his confession have been admitted/excluded?

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


And WHY are all these Great Debates being posted in the GQ forum? :slight_smile:

I am prepared for the flames of MB hell and I feel them descending upon me.

I would like to say that I am against captial punishment in almost every case. I just can’t legitimize it in my own mind. Having been raised in the south and majoring in Police Science in college, I have had to defend my point of view often. I have a good friend now with a child (20 years old) on trial for murder. No one would have expected a child like him to come from a family like his - the classic “bad seed”.

That being said, I believe some people are truly evil and horrible, from start to finish. I recognize that some poeple are the product of their environments, but I don’ believe that’s always the case. Does anyone remember the case from several years ago in which the really young child (either four or six, can’t remember) sneaked into a house where a teenage girl was babysitting her baby brother? The child hid in the bushes with a big stick, waited for the rest of the family to leave, and entered the house unnoticed. When the girl went to the bathroom, the boy went into the baby’s room and beat him on the head so severely with the stick that he nearly died and suffered permanent brain damage. His doctor said at the time the child would never be able to even hold his head up.

In my opinion, THESE are the people the death penatly should apply to. Anyone capable of such a heinous act at such a young age, clearly carefully thought out and well planned, is just BAD. I’m no psychologist (shocking, huh?) but I just can’t see how it can get better from there.

I say we’re weeding them out of society way too late. People may say the same about me after reading this post, but on most subjects I am about as liberal as they come. Really. I swear.

Okey dokey. Flame away.

Ruadh, on the assumption that this truly belongs on the GD board, thank you. I don’t necessarily agree with that assessment, and I don’t know who moved it, but moved it was, and here we are.

I have spent some time investigating this case, and I’m shocked in one respect – the LACK of coverage! Getting the SD on this case is like pulling teeth! Almost every word of press coverage has to do with Nate’s age. There is VERY little on the crime itself.

In previous posts on the GQ board, I mis-stated some facts. (OK, my sources weren’t the best…) Apparently, Nate didn’t “find the rifle in an alley.” Testimony varies, but it seems he was “given” or he “traded for” or somehow “bought” the rifle. Also, Nate didn’t, it seems, brag to his “girlfriend” that day that he was going to kill someone. He DID brag to her, but it happened earlier, a day or three – depending on who’s telling the story.

My earlier description of the basic facts is correct though. Nate had the rifle, obtained hollow-point shells for it, practiced with it (for days, I guess, and damn near shot a neighbor kid in the process), declared his wish to kill to his “girlfriend,” and fired the rifle, resulting in a head-shot kill (square through the temple, according to the autopsy) on an 18-year-old man he didn’t even know. Also, my assertion that he had 22 prior run-ins with the law was correct; all occurred within the two years previous to the killing, and a number had involved weapons.

Yes, by all accounts, Nate is somewhat retarded. According to his defense counsel, he was, at age 11, roughly the equivalent intellectually of a 6-year-old child. Defense counsel being what it is, we can safely assume that a correct assessment is that he was equivalent to someone older, perhaps an 8-year-old or a 9-year-old. In any case, the boy wasn’t quite all there.

But he ran. After the shooting, by his own account and by all others, once the shot was fired, Nate ran away.

A thing I hadn’t learned until recently is that Nate bragged about the murder AFTER the fact, claiming to friends that “I got that nigger.” Also, there is argument about the distance the bullet traveled. Some say 180’, some say 200’, some say much farther. Defense counsel claims that the fatal bullet traveled two distinct trajectories – from the barrel of the rifle to a streetlight (or a traffic light) and then to the dead man’s temple.

The distance between the trees Nate CLAIMS to have been shooting at and his victim is not in dispute – 180’, or 60 yards, an easy shot with a .22 rifle. I find it almost hilarious that the defense put an “expert witness” on the stand, a champion skeet/trap shooter, who asserted that Nate couldn’t have made the shot. As a long-time .22 afficionado, I can assure you that a five-year-old child can quite easily hit a target the size of a man’s head at sixty yards with a minimum of training. My own kids have shown the ability to meet and exceed such a standard. (I did NOT use targets that resembled anything like any part of a human while training my boys. But I watched them nail rotten canteloupes one after another.) This “expert witness” is nothing but a paid jerk.

So what are we to think/believe?

Jane seems willing to abandon her liberal views in favor of frying this kid. Is that right?

More comment is requested and welcome!

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


I am kind of, sort of pro-death penalty, but kind of, sort of against it. I don’t know, lately there have been way too many discoveries of innocent people in jail or death row. To be honest, it scares the hell out of me.

However, I do think that the sentence was far too light. I think he should have been sent away to receive treatment. If he responds to treatment he should serve a juvenile sentence i.e. until 21. If by 21 he is still psychotic (sp), then he should continue his sentence until he is deemed not a threat to society. Frankly, I don’t think such a day would come so it would be effectively be a life sentence.

I guess I am reminded of something from “Gift of Fear”. We call people monsters, only because we don’t want to acknowledge that piece of them that is in all of us. They cannot possibly be human because if they were than that would mean we could do what they did.

He is a kid. I think he deserves a shot at getting some help. Clearly, there was something wrong with his life that drove him to this. I say, give us a chance to undo the damage, and see what happens.

I’d have to agree there with you Glitch(in that his sentence was too light) but don’t know about the form you proposed. What I would suggest is that he fulfill his jail term(ie, till 21) and then be subject to a psychiatric evaluation, to determine if he is fit to regain society(in other words, to see if he has been rehabilitated). If so, all right then, the justice system has done its work, let him go. If not, then probably he should be placed in a psychiatric ward, or otherwise prevented from re-entering society.

That’s essentially what I meant, if it didn’t come out that way. Give him a chance to rehabilitate. If he doesn’t by 21 throw away the key until he does.

Sometimes I need to just simplify my posts.

Nu Vo and Glitch:

I’d love to entertain you both in your la-la land, but I keep stumbling over the hard facts.

Rehabilitation within the prison system doesn’t exist. If anything, the opposite is true. Ask ANY recent parolee… “Did you learn to be a better citizen during your time in prison?” Answer: “No.” Question: “Did you learn anything?” Answer: “Yes, ma’am, I learned new ways to do it and how to not get caught.”

My point about Abraham’s sentence is that it doesn’t matter what you or I think about his guilt or his worthiness as a member of society. In seven years, Nathaniel Jamal Abraham, the mildly-retarded kid who sent a bullet through the side of the head of a complete stranger, will be just as free as you or me. That’s the law.

I just want to know what you think about that.

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


Folks, let me be clear. Nathaniel Abraham has been tried and received his sentence. NOTHING we can do or say will change that.

Nate will be kept in a Michigan juvenile correctional facility until he’s 21, and then he will be released, free and clear. Short of a complete pardon, the judge in Nate’s case could not have been more lenient.

The shoulda’s and the coulda’s and the woulda’s have all been spent.

Did Nate receive justice? Did his victim receive justice? Did we, as members of society, receive justice?

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


Didn’t I just answer that? I think the sentence was too light. Unless he is rehabilitated in prison (which as you note is unlikely) he should be locked up good. He got off easy, the victim didn’t get justice and neither did society.

TBone, you don’t own the thread. If it goes in a direction you don’t like (and it didn’t, which is why I really don’t understand your complaining about) and you think you issues haven’t been addressed you are quite free to reissue them, but please don’t try to tell me how or what I should post as long as what I am posting is somewhat on topic.

If the last paragraph is a little harsh I apologize. It’s been quite a day on the MB. Still, I think our posts have been on topic. Maybe I don’t understand what you are looking for.

“Glitch … Window, large icons.” - Bob the Guardian

Glitch, glad you apologized to Tbone. I think he was just entering the debate with his opinion, which is what we all do.

Some here assume the DP is assured when the issue is juvie killers being tried as juvies or adults. Being tried as an adult most assuredly does not mean they get the DP if convicted. Most adult killers in fact do not get the DP.

I think the judge in this case was too lenient.

But another case hit the news this week. That of a 14 y/o male who was babysitting for 4 y/o and a 13 month old baby! This 14 y/o sexually assaulted the baby and then mixed windshield washer solution with juice in a bottle and gave it to the baby.

The wise judge in this case made the decision to try this kid as an adult, because if he were tried and convicted as a juvie, he would be out at age 17 (in that state)! Conviction as adult gets him juvenile detention til age 17 then he’ll be transferred to prison.

The issues regarding why a kid becomes a murderer have been discussed by well-meaning people forever, but solutions have never been forthcoming. The only thing the court can do after the fact is deal with the crime and the criminal, and do whatever it takes to protect society.

I’m not for the death penalty. Not for any sort of religious/moral grounds, but because the threat of being killed seems to prompt more appeals and legalese. If we locked these guys up in a 8x10 for eighty years, my argument is that it would prolly be cheaper than all the re-trials/stays of execution that would be attempted.

That being said, I’d put the kid away for life.

Why are we letting him go at 21 (Michigan law notwithstanding)? At 21, all of a sudden is he not going to be retarded? Is he going to be rehabilitated, and want to go to dental school? I feel bad for saying this, but he’s just going to end up in the joint again (22 brushes with the law before this, and some with guns???). We should have saved everyone time and money (and maybe someone’s life) and put him away.


They say the Lord loves drunks, fools and little children.
Two out of three ain’t bad.

TBone, in a way you are right about abandoning my liberal views in this case. I am just so tired of hearing “By thirteen years old, Bob Joe Neighbor had a rap sheet longer than he was tall.” God! That really fires me up.

I can’t understand why this shit is allowed to happen. Someone certainly has to be accountable. I just read the story of the kid left in charge of the baby mentioned above. I’d strangle that little asshole myself. Where are these kids’ parents? And why does that question keep coming up? No one ever had to ask where my parents were. I am so utterly sick of hearing stories like this. I realize that good chid care is hard to find. My husband and I work opposite shifts so we don’t have to put our kids in day care. That’s not an option for everyone, but under the worst of circumstances, neither should it be an option to leave two young kids with a young teenager. I’m not letting the little piece of filth of the hook here - most likely a kid like that has done terrible things before and will continue to do so if allowed.

I just want to make my point clear. I think there’s no “fixing” this kind of problem nce it arises, and the sooner these young dregs get off the streets, the better.

But once we get those kids off the street, how do you go about rehabilitating them? I don’t think anyone disagrees that prisons don’t quite do what they’re intended to do. Well, maybe someone does, but I don’t think so.

We need to do several things.

  1. Find out what makes kids into evil little bastards.
    1a) Once that’s known, try to stop it.
  2. For those whose personality we couldn’t save from the gutter, find a succesful method of rehabilition, which our current system ain’t.
  3. Make the death penalty certain and quick for people who absolutely cannot be rehabilitated.
    3a) Find a way to determine who absolutely cannot be rehabilitated.

As for Nate… I think that autopsy would determine very quickly whether that shot was fired at the man’s head or if it were a ricochet (by the path of the bullet as it moved through the skull). If he did it intentionally, beat the little… You get the point, I think he should have gotten a much harsher sentence, because he showed bloodlust and pride in the deed.

I sold my soul to Satan for a dollar. I got it in the mail.

TBone, i know I already apologized but I feel real bad about my attack on you. I just wanted to apologize again. I am truly shamed. There is no excuse.

Glitch, your apologies are as accepted as they are unnecessary. Like you said, this board – like so many others – exists for the purpose of allowing you and me to vent our thoughts.

I may have come across as being a bit imperious, and if I did, I apologize for that. As I tried to explain earlier, this board originated in GQ and was transferred here without my intent, assent, or even notification. I don’t mind finding it in GD, but it’s a bit disconcerting… Maybe I was more pissed about that than I was with your comments.

As far as I’m concerned, the hatchet is buried. (Isn’t a hatchet a thing that you never forget where you buried it? Old bad joke, I think…) :wink:

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


One man’s right to walk down the street without fear of being randomly executed should supercede any other rights we guarantee someone in this country.

The kid got his day in court. Now we should lock him up until he dies. Because we can’t guarantee the citizens of this country that he won’t commit another random murder the day he gets released from jail. And since I am not volunteering to live next door to him, I shouldn’t expect anyone else to.

Some acts are so senseless that rehabilitation shouldn’t even be an issue. I couldn’t care less whether the kid finds Jesus one day. Or whether he’s gone through sensitivity training workshops. Who cares? Obviously he is missing that part of his personality, or soul, that prevents the rest of from committing these horrific acts of violence.

Killers without a conscience should never be released from prison.

PunditLisa, I like a lot of what you have to say, and agree with you on your major points. BUT (ain’t there always a “but” in the crowd?) I have to call you on one or two minor nuances…

You said, “One man’s right to walk down the street without fear of being randomly executed should supercede any other rights we guarantee someone in this country.”

I agree that a man (or a woman) should be able to walk down any street without actually being executed, and THAT is worth pulling out all the Constitutional stops. But I can’t agree that the same man/woman should be *free of fear of that happening[i/] at the expense of all else.

Fear is natural. Fear is often an influence on behavior that is more valuable than it is unpleasant. Since it is not possible to legislate evil out of existence, it is, to my way of thinking, neither advisable nor possible to eliminate the concept of healthy fear.

In the Michigan case, Ronnie Greene had no known fear, and had no reason to fear for either his life or his safety. What would he have been afraid of? On the night of the shooting, Ronnie Greene had done nothing wrong. He was guilty of nothing more than trying to enjoy a night on the town. Because of a random evil act on the part of another, Ronnie Greene died, before his time. But he died without fear. The lack of fear of death didn’t help him a bit.

You also said, “Killers without a conscience should never be released from prison.”

Would it be better to describe the people you’re talking about as “killers without remorse?” Either way you say it, aren’t such people “poster kids” for death-penalty advocates?

Everyone seems to agree that Nate Abraham’s mind is not all it could be. His prosecutors found him to be “a bit slow” and his defenders claim that he has “the intellect of a child half his age.” Does Nate have a “conscience?” His pre- and post-shooting bragging notwithstanding, does Nate understand what he did? Did he have an awareness of what would happen down-range when he launched that bullet?

I don’t know why fortune smiles on some and lets the rest go free…


RATS! YOU ALL know how the italics thing works. You know what I meant…