SC Supreme Court To Hear Christopher Pittman Appeal
Thu, 1 Sep 2005
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The South Carolina Supreme Court has by-passed the Court of Appeals and will hear the appeal of Christopher Pittman who killed his grandparents under the influence of the antidepressant, Zoloft.
The case has generated extraordinary interest because Christopher was only 12 years old at the time of the crime, yet was tried and sentenced as an adult.
Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
Youth was convicted of killing his grandparents when he was 12
By NICHOLE MONROE BELL AND HENRY EICHEL
The Charlotte Observer
The S.C. Supreme Court has decided to hear the appeal of a Chester County teen who was convicted in the 2001 shooting deaths of his grandparents.
The ruling means the youth, 16-year-old Christopher Pittman, will bypass the S.C. Court of Appeals because his case “involves an issue of significant public interest or a legal principle of major importance,” according to the Supreme Court.
In its order, the court did not specify what issue or legal principle merited its review.
Pittman was 12 when he shot to death Joe and Joy Pittman of Chester. During his trial in February 2005, Pittman’s lawyers argued the antidepressant drug Zoloft made the boy unable to know right from wrong and led him to kill. Prosecutors said the boy knew right from wrong because he fled the scene and lied to police when they found him.
Pittman’s lawyers have argued that the teen shouldn’t have been tried as an adult, and that his resulting 30-year sentence was too harsh. Thirty years is the minimum sentence allowed under S.C. law for murder by someone convicted as an adult.
Professor James Flanagan of the University of South Carolina Law School said that while the Supreme Court doesn’t often bypass the Court of Appeals, it’s not unusual when an unsettled issue of law is at stake. Flanagan said the rule is one that the Supreme Court uses “to bring before itself those cases that it is ultimately going to end up hearing anyway.”
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