Local News

Vance Twins Receive Maximum Juvenile Punishment

Posted November 21, 1999

— After a day and a half of hearings, Vance County twin brothers have learned their fate for killing their father and wounding their mother and sister.

On their 12th birthday, the Bawcum brothers received the maximum sentence allowable under juvenile law: confinement at a training school until their 18th birthday, unless they are let go earlier.

"The juveniles have been remanded to the Office of Juvenile Justice to be placed at a training school for an indefinite amount of time," said Steven DeCillis, assistant district attorney.

"We devise a treatment plan for each individual that comes in," said Dr. Martin Pharr.

Pharr is from the Office of Juvenile Justice. He testified at the twins' sentencing about treatment options. He says training schools have programs specifically designed to rehabilitate violent kids.

"It is a tremendous responsibility, but it's our belief that children are malleable and that they can be taught," said Pharr.

The boys will join more than 900 juveniles ages 10 to 17 who are being treated at five training schools across the state.

Pharr says the average stay is one year, but they can be held until their 18th birthday.

"The treatment professionals at these facilities will, in the final analysis, determine whether or not they will be released before their 18th birthday," said District Attorney David Waters.

The new North Carolina juvenile code allows training schools to hold people past their 18th birthday under special circumstances.

However, this is only for crimes which occurred after July 1, so it does not apply in this case. Once juveniles turn 18, their records are erased.

The boys entered and exited the courthouse clad in oversized raincoats to protect their identities. The courtroom had been closed to the public.

The Vance County district attorney said juvenile court is more concerned with confidentiality and rehabilitation than with punishment.

"It's concerned more with the treatment of juveniles than what might be done to deal with their delinquent behaviors so that they can be rehabilitated and be successful adults," said Waters.

The boys admitted in August to killing their father William and wounding their mother and sister at their Kittrell home on Egypt Mountain Road April 1.

Throughout the proceedings, their family has been on hand, including their mother, Deborah Bawcum. At Tuesday's sentencing, their mother and sister were in the Vance County courtroom. andKay Miller

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