Vance Twins Plead Responsible for April Shootings
Posted August 1, 1999 7:00 a.m. EDT
HENDERSON — Twin 11-year-old boys have taken responsibility in court for killing their father and wounding their mother and sister.
The court session only took 11 minutes Monday morning.
One of the twins pleaded responsible to one count of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury and involuntary manslaughter.
The other twin pleaded responsible to two counts of assault and second degree murder.
Investigators say one of the boys did all of the shooting and that he believed he was trying to protect his brother.
It was chaos at the Vance County Courthouse in Henderson as the 11-year-old twins arrived for their court appearance, not unlike the night of April 1 at their home on Egypt Mountain Road.
The twins were charged with shooting to death their father, William Bawcum, and wounding their mother, Deborah Bawcum, and their sister, Robin Bawcum.
"This is an incident where children were playing with guns and shouldn't have been," said District Attorney David Waters.
Waters said the boys' mother caught them hiding an assault rifle. One twin apparently struggled with her over the rifle, and the other twin pulled out a revolver and started shooting.
"Twins sometimes bond very closely as compared to other family members, and there might have been some hint or some belief in Juvenile N's mind that he was coming to the defense of Juvenile J," said Waters.
The twins were whisked out of the courthouse after pleading responsible to the shootings.
Sheriff Thomas Breedlove said it was a crime we will probably never have all the answers to.
"We always ask ourselves the question, 'Why did it happen?' When juveniles are involved, we don't know. I wish we did know," Breedlove said.
Investigators said there was no evidence of abuse in this family. Waters said it was a situation that got out of control.
"There are many dangerous things that children can involve themselves with against parental advice that get them hurt or killed, and you have these kinds of tragedies," said Waters.
Within in 60 days, the twins will have a disposition hearing. The most severe sentence they could face is being confined to a juvenile detention facility until their 18th birthday.
An 11-year-old who kills is so rare that few agencies track children that young, but federal statistics start adding up for people a few years older.
Between 1985 and 1994, the rate of murders committed by 14- to 17-year-olds increased 172 percent.
Since 1984, the number of juveniles killing with a gun has quadrupled while the rate of killings with all other weapons has remained steady.
Sixty-five percent of those killed by kids are friends, family or acquaintances.