We know one thing. Matthew Booth's 13 year old daughter deliberately shot him in the face with a shotgun. And she is charged with an open count of murder, for which she will be tried as an adult and maybe spend the rest of her life in prison.
But she shouldn't.
If Matthew Booth was murdered, maybe it is because a system didn't care, despite his having been reported to Allegheny County Officials who didn't bother to follow up. And a trapped child, living with her brother in animal feces and sexually abused by her father, finally did about the only thing she could think of. She killed him.
BUENA VISTA, Pennsylvania (AP) -- A 13-year-old girl used a shotgun to fatally shoot her father in the head early Monday in a home overrun with animals and filth, police said.
The girl told investigators she used a 12-gauge shotgun to shoot 34-year-old Matthew Booth in the face while he was in bed, according to a police affidavit.
A police complaint did not identify a motive in the killing, but her mother, Michelle Fazek, who was separated from Booth, said she had complained several times to county child welfare officials that her daughter and her brother, 14, were living in squalor and that her daughter had been abused.
"I just want to see her," Fazek said. "She must be so scared."
Messages left for Allegheny County's Office of Children, Youth and Families were not immediately returned.
The Associated Press does not identify victims of possible sexual abuse.
The girl appeared in municipal court late Monday wearing a maroon county jail uniform, her hands and ankles cuffed, where she was charged as an adult with criminal homicide and ordered held without bail.
The house in Elizabeth Township, about 20 miles southeast of Pittsburgh was in deplorable condition, police said.
"They had a number of animals, dogs, cats and rabbits. They hadn't cleaned up after them," said James Morton, assistant superintendent of Allegheny County Police. The two-story frame house had dirty, peeling white siding, and a downstairs window was boarded up.
Yeah, I know. Maybe she should have run away. Perhaps, but to where? Life on the streets is pretty dangerous for a thirteen year old girl. Gangs, drugs, rape, forced prostitution, maybe becoming a murder victim herself-- that is what can be expected for a thirteen year old runaway. Of course if she ran to her (apparently non-custodial) mother, it is very likely that the police would look there first and that she would simply be returned home-- and I'm sure punished by her father in a horrible manner. Beyond that, a thirteen year old probably doesn't know enough about life to know about battered women's shelters or other places she could seek help.
The county officials will undoubtedly pat themselves on the back if they get a conviction, and chalk up another 'solved crime' brought to a successful conclusion. A statistic. They won't even think twice about the failure of the County's Department of Children, Youth and Families.
No, murder is never the right choice to get out of a situation. But a murder charge in this case is inappropriate. A charge of perhaps voluntary manslaughter, followed by a sentence to be served someplace where this girl can get the help she needs, is what the prosecutors should pursue.