Jahmir Ricks, the 14-year-old Lansdowne boy who stabbed his older brother to death last summer during a fight over a video-game controller, has the rest of his life to think about what he did.
But he won't have to do it alone in a jail cell.
Delaware County Court Judge Kevin F. Kelly yesterday ordered Ricks, a chubby-faced kid who looks younger than his age, sent to a juvenile facility in Chambersburg, Franklin County, where he will receive the intensive counseling his attorney says he desperately needs.
Ricks, who admitted last month to fatally stabbing his brother, Antwan, 16, with a 6-inch steak knife, was expected to be transported today from the county's juvenile-detention center to a residential-treatment program run by Alternative Rehabilitation Communities Inc.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel McDevitt, arguing that Ricks was a "threat to public safety," had sought to have the teenager tried as an adult, where he could have received life imprisonment if convicted of first-degree murder.
Judge Frank T. Hazel, however, transferred the case to juvenile court, where Ricks pleaded guilty last month to voluntary manslaughter.
Ricks, who can be kept under court supervision only until he is 21, will have a personal counselor at the ARC facility while participating in individual and family therapy and continuing his education.
"This kid can be helped," defense attorney Michael Malloy said.
The ARC program has helped rehabilitate several juveniles who have committed homicide, he said. And it's expensive for taxpayers - in Ricks' case, about $79,000 a year.
Ricks' mother, Christine, who sobbed quietly as she signed court papers after yesterday's sentencing, has "mixed feelings" about seeing young "Mir" sent 150 miles away, Malloy said. As a mother, she feels " 'this child needs to be with me' " at her home on Maple Avenue, he said, but she also understands that Jahmir requires professional counseling.
Christine Ricks previously testified that Antwan, who she said was "angry all the time," violently beat his younger brother for years, which Malloy presented as a mitigating circumstance in the stabbing. She also fought the prosecution's efforts to have Jahmir tried as an adult.
After months of grueling court hearings, Malloy said that the Ricks family finally can begin to recover from the fratricide through family counseling.
"He and his mother are so close," he said. "They've got a lot to talk about."