The Iowa Supreme Court has denied the appeal of the sentence given an Osage teen for killing his mom.
Noah Crooks was found guilty of second-degree murder and “not guilty” of assault with the intent to commit sexual abuse after he called 911 on March 24, 2012 and told the Mitchell County dispatcher he had shot his mom Gretchen with his .22 rifle and then tried to have sex with her. Crooks was 13 and was tried as a youthful offender in adult court.
Court information showed Crooks shot his mom, who was a nurse at a Mason City hospital 22 times. When he turned 18 his case was reviewed. The pre-sentence investigation said Crooks had no issues while in the juvenile detention center and followed the rules there to avoid any negative consequences.
The report also said Crooks could not offer “a plausible explanation for why he shot and killed his mother, that might offer some insight into his thoughts and actions that day.” It said “for the protection of society, it is recommended the defendant be supervised at a higher level of supervision than what community based supervision can provide.”
The judge was sentenced him to an indeterminate prison term not to exceed fifty years without any mandatory minimum sentence. Crooks appealed the sentence saying he should not have tried as a youthful offender in adult court and the sentence given him was unconstitutional.
The Iowa Supreme Court ruled trying Crooks as a juvenile offender allowed for time to assess his prospect for rehabilitation, and says the sentence given to him was based on the information in the assessment, and was not unconstitutional.
The ruling did address the issue of Crooks’ age. The ruling says the decision to waive jurisdiction over a child for prosecution as a youthful offender “does not automatically subject the child to adult criminal sanctions. Instead, the youthful offender provisions allow the courts to wait until the child is nearly eighteen-and to see whether the rehabilitative services provided in the juvenile system have been effective-before determining how to proceed.”
The ruling also says, “We acknowledge sentencing reform efforts nationwide to raise the minimum age for prosecution in adult court. But under our constitutional separation of powers, those efforts should be directed to the legislature.”
Here’s the ruling: Crooks-opinion-PDF