Still no decision for juvenile suspect

Dec. 08, 2013 @ 09:00 AM

A decision has still not been made as to whether the 14-year-old juvenile suspect involved in the shooting of 16-year-old Dominique Fernanders in Spindale on Sunday, Nov. 17 will be charged as an adult.

Chris Callahan, the attorney for the juvenile, said the issue of moving the case from juvenile court — where it currently is — into adult court is in the hands of Brad Greenway, District Attorney for Judicial District 29A.

On Wednesday, Nov. 20, Greenway advised the investigation was ongoing and no decision was to be made as to whether to seek transfer to the Superior Court for trial as an adult until evidence was reviewed with Spindale Police.

At the time, Greenway said the 14-year-old had already been served with a juvenile petition.

"If the DA decides to move the case to an adult court, I will resign and he will have to get a criminal defense attorney," said Callahan, who no longer tries criminal cases.

The suspect is currently in secure custody at a juvenile detention facility outside of Rutherford County and is charged with attempted murder.

Callahan said if the youth remains in the juvenile court system, it is likely he will stay in a secure facility until he is 18 or 21 years of age. The facility would provide the juvenile with psychiatric counseling and therapeutic services, as well as a chance for him to complete his education.

"Hopefully he will be dealt with in juvenile court, and we have had discussions with the DA's office about this," Callahan said.

On Sunday, Nov. 17 around 5 p.m., officers with the Spindale Police Department were dispatched to 135 Johnson Street in reference to shots fired following an altercation.

The police report indicated that witnesses advised a 14-year-old juvenile arrived at the Johnson Street residence carrying a single barrel shotgun.

Following a verbal exchange between Fernanders and the other juveniles inside the residence, the suspect attempted to break down the front door. After failing to gain entry, the suspect shoved the barrel of the shotgun through the window of the front door and fired into the residence, the report stated.

Upon arrival officers discovered Fernanders suffering from a single gunshot wound to his left arm and torso. Although there were other juveniles inside the residence at the time of the shooting, officers said Fernanders was the only one injured.

Fernanders was taken to Memorial Mission Hospital in Asheville were he underwent multiple surgeries. He continues to recover from wounds sustained in the incident.

After the shooting, the report advised that the juvenile fled the scene on foot and a short time later his father, Charles Franklin McDowell, returned him to the scene and turned him over to authorities.

McDowell's home on Ledbetter Road is less than a mile from the Johnston Street residence where the shooting occurred.

According to the report, McDowell also recovered the shotgun used in the incident and surrendered it to officers.

The next day Spindale officers identified McDowell as the owner of the shotgun and issued two warrants for his arrest, including failure to secure a firearm from a minor and possession of firearm by a felon.

McDowell was taken into custody the same day for the first warrant and was out on bond Tuesday. On Tuesday evening, officers located and arrested McDowell on the second warrant, for which he received a $30,000 unsecured bond.

Authorities have still not publicly released the juvenile suspect's name at this time.