The 13-year-old boy who admitted to shooting his mother and stepfather to death at their Kaiser home in July faces an indefinite road to rehabilitation in the Missouri Division of Youth Services. At the conclusion of Austin Pinion’s adjudication hearing Wednesday afternoon in Tuscumbia, Judge Kenneth Hayden told the boy that he believes he can become a productive member of society
“I sincerely believe that you can be rehabilitated (...) but there is no promise or guarantee of that,” Hayden said.
The teenager, who was 12 at the time of the double homicide, faces an indefinite detention sentence within the juvenile justice system. He will be the subject of counseling, therapy, education, and vocational services in a secure care center. His treatment program will be specified to his individual needs. The Division of Youth Services can continue treatment up until the boy’s 18th birthday.
“My opinion is because of the severity of his acts, I strongly believe the division would petition to have him stay beyond his 18th birthday,” 26th Judicial Circuit Chief Juvenile Officer Tammy Walden testified at the hearing.
The Division of Youth Services could take the case back to court to allow for Pinion’s treatment schedule to be extended to his 21st birthday. For the five months between his initial arrest and this week’s court hearing, Pinion stayed at a Camden County detention center.
Walden testified that Pinion did not commit any serious rules violations during his close to five month stay at the Mary Dickerson Juvenile Justice Center in Camdenton. She noted that Pinion had some difficulties adjusting to the structure of the detention center, but that he corrected his behavior when staff members identified minor rules violations.
Two educators from School of the Osage took the witness stand to testify about Pinion’s background. Osage Middle School principal Tony Slack noted that the child’s grades slumped over a three-year span from third grade to sixth grade. Discipline problems led to some incidents of acting out.
“He sought out a lot of attention... wanted some positive attention from people,” Slack said.
Slack described how the boy had some conflicts with other students, the worst was a “pushing match.”
Assistant Principal Brad Yoder noted that many of his office visits with Pinion ended positively.
“He might be upset at first, but oftentimes he would settle down and be more forthcoming,” Yoder explained.
Walden testified that Pinion had not shown a reputation for violent behavior in the past and that his case marked the first time he had ever been referred to the 26th Judicial Circuit for criminal action. The family had a history of calls to the Division of Youth Services hotline, and serious allegations of abuse surfaced in 2006 and again in 2008.
“(Home life) was extremely chaotic for periods,” Walden said.
A psychologist established the teenager understood his actions, but was immature for his age. “I think we have to consider his educational background and history. And although not the best student in the world (...) he is a candidate for rehabilitation,” Judge Hayden said. “He has the educational and the learning capabilities for rehabilitation.”