Law enforcement said a 16-year-old boy at the facility is the suspect. We are getting answers on the types of punishment a young person could face in Massachusetts if found guilty.

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--The community continues to mourn the death of James Hillman Junior, the worker who died after authorities say he was assaulted in the Springfield Department of Youth Services Facility.

Law enforcement said a 16-year-old boy at the facility is the suspect. We are getting answers on the types of punishment a young person could face in Massachusetts if found guilty.

The District Attorney said this is an ongoing homicide investigation and charges are pending. But we have seen people on social media asking if a teen suspect could be tried as an adult if charged. We took those questions to an attorney.

On June 30, authorities say James Hillman Junior was attacked by a sixteen-year-old boy at the Department of Youth Services facility on Tinkham Road in Springfield. Weeks later, Hillman, who worked at the facility as a center for Human Development employee, died from those injuries.

The Hampden District Attorney said a 16-year-old boy is the suspect in their ongoing homicide investigation and his name has not been released.

Western Mass News spoke with attorney Jared Olanoff about the type of punishment the teen could face if charged as an adult.

"The juvenile would have to be indicted as what's called a youthful offender," Olanoff said.

Olanoff said that kind of case would go through superior court. And if found guilty, a teen could be sentenced to life in jail. But, there's a key difference.

"Normally an adult would be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder. However, as a juvenile, even if they are convicted of first-degree murder, the maximum they could be sentenced to is life with the possibility of parole anywhere from between 15 to 25 years.

Olanoff said this is due to recent cases both in the U.S. Supreme Court and the State's Supreme Judicial Court.

"The juvenile can no longer be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole," said Olanoff.

If charged with a lesser crime like manslaughter, Olanoff says teen offenders can still face jail time.

"They would still be tried as an adult but they would be tried in juvenile court," Olanoff said.

But he says if a teen is not indicted as a youthful offender, they would be prosecuted in juvenile court and not face jail time.

"The most that they would be facing is a commitment to DYS custody," Olanoff said.

Again, the District Attorney said this is an ongoing case and charges are pending.

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