The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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July 17, 2014

Johnstown residents torn over how to treat teen offenders

JOHNSTOWN — Johnstown area residents were conflicted Thursday over whether a juvenile deserves to spend the rest of his or her life in prison if convicted of murder.

But all agreed a young offender should end up spending time behind bars for a killing - such as the shooting of police academy student Tyrone Williams early Sunday in the city’s Oakhurst section.

“You do the crime, you should do the time,” Herman Dailey of Johnstown said Thursday.

Three individuals were arrested for the Williams shooting. One of them, Fidel Cosby, is 15.

“If he’s 15 ... that means he’ll have a long time to sit in there and think about it,” Dailey said, adding that a life sentence is an appropriate punishment.

William Walker of Johnstown agreed.

It’s about accountability, Walker said.

“If you’re a teenager, you know enough to know what you did was wrong. You know enough not to do it,” Walker said.

Daryl Lewis, another Johnstown resident, saw things differently.

A teen under 18 years old should have to answer for what he does, Lewis said.

“But at 15, no, they shouldn’t end up in prison the rest of their lives,” he said.

“They should be placed somewhere where there’s an educational (component),” Lewis said. “It’s not too late for them to learn from their mistakes.”

David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Let him know what you think about this issue on Twitter @tddavidhurst.

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