tv Lockup Special Investigation Lake County Juvenile MSNBC January 8, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST
he said, no, i asked you to leave. the man put handcuffs on me. >> she's on probation for battery and there's some type of impulse control that leaves me very concerned. >> perfect situation for the family meeting my dad. he left letters for me when i was growing up. sounds like a nice guy. >> you're very immature, like a kid that don't want to grow up. >> i wanted to plead guilty and get it over with. she never steered me wrong, she knows what's best. >> hello? hey, ma.
>> hello? hey, ma. they told me that -- that they'll release me from here if i plead guilty. okay. if i don't plead the guilty plea, there's still a chance to send me across the street. if they send me across the street then i'll be facing charges over there. yes, ma'am. i love you, too. >> aaron, come on up. >> i tried to go straight. but driving is just my thing.
i just like driving. that's what get me in trouble all the time. my whole life has always been taking somebody's car. >> over the past six years 17-year-old aaron ashburn has become a familiar face at lake county juvenile. >> this will be your last picture as a juvenile. >> with his 18th birthday just days away, aaron finds himself back behind bars. this time he was picked up on a bench warrant for failing to appear at his last court hearing in a neighboring town in illinois. where he was charged with battery. >> i missed a court date, i think. i came down here. i just forgot about it. cause it was just a little battery. i was fighting someone. i didn't even realize that i missed a court date. >> to make matters worse he's still on probation for attempted auto theft and battery. here in lake county. intake department head deborah clayton tries to get aaron to
understand just how severe his situation is. >> that was your eighth complaint. you have been detained with us five times. you've been here for a total of 161 days. >> yeah. >> you didn't know that? you were on placement? >> yeah. >> for how long? >> nine months. >> you were at silver state for how long? >> 15 months. >> so what do you want the court to do with you? >> well, i want to go home, but it's probably not even a possibility right now. but i hope i can go home. if anything, get me a commitment here. don't send me across the street. if they send me across the street then i'll have an adult felony. then my life is going to be basically ruined if i get adult felony. >> over there they don't give a crap about rehabilitation. they're not going to want you to go to placement or get counseling. they're not going to ask you what has happened in your life. they don't care. so at what point are you going to, like, let it soak through, maybe do something different? >> here in the juvenile court
system there are more options available to kids than there are in the adult system. >> the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you god. >> the juvenile court was created to provide services to kids and families to make them better adults. >> for 26 years lake county juvenile judge mary beth bonaventura has been making tough decisions that aim to get kids like aaron back on track. >> they're coming back into the community. i want to do everything i can do first before i send them to the dlc or department of corrections. >> because of aaron's age, his long history with the juvenile system, and the fact that he's still on probation for attempted car theft and battery, the stakes are much higher this time. aaron has already been warned that the prosecutor's office is looking at waiving him to the adult system. >> i've got a bad record. so i'll probably beg please don't let take my life away from me. to me that's taking my life away. that will be three adult felons
instead of just one. i have three pending. >> aaron admits he has an unquenchable thirst for taking cars that aren't his own. his other vice, playing escape artist. >> my staff called me to let me know that he was trying to be a trickster and had a detention officer bring him up sunday night for the release for the weekenders. and our intake officer elizabeth noticed that no, he's not a weekender. he's not supposed to be leaving. he tried to convince her, yes, i am. i'm a weekender. i don't belong here. i'm supposed to go home. i came in on friday, i need to go home. my mom is going to be picking me up. he tried to really convince her. >> if for some reason staff let you walk out the door they would be coming for me. and my job would be on the line. you've got to understand, the decisions that you make have consequences that don't affect you, but affect everybody else around you. stop being slick, okay. >> the staff made a mistake and put it in my paperwork. >> regardless, you knew you weren't a weekender. you knew you weren't supposed to be, you know -- >> i understand.
>> seeing freedom. >> i understand. >> aaron's detention center escapade wasn't the first time he plotted an escape. a few years back he made a bold and daring run for it when he bolted out of his hospital room window where he was being treated for stab wounds. >> getting stabbed by who? >> it was a while ago. >> a long time ago? >> yeah. i was liking this girl and she was liking me, but she had a boyfriend and he cut me like six times. right here on my forehead and on my chin, on my arm. the police was like, yeah, we're taking you to jail. i was like, what? i'm the victim. i'm like, man, i'm not going to jail. so i tied a couple of sheets together and climbed out the window. >> but right now escape isn't what on aaron's mind. going to adult jail is. >> trying to send me across the street and deal with my cases, charge me as an adult because they say i've been taking too many cars and i'm a menace to society and i belong behind bars. i think i have a decision-making problem. that's what i think i do.
because like when decision comes, i know right from wrong and i'll be like, oh, that's wrong, but i just do what i like to do instead of what's right. i do what i want to do. >> figuring out the stressors that contribute to kids landing in juvenile is never an exact science. some come with serious crimes. some minor offenses. 16-year-old repeat offender ayryana is back after being released barely a month ago. >> are you allergic to anything? do you have any health problems? >> no. >> suicide? in the past or the present? >> yeah. >> you've been suicidal in the past? and you've never received counseling for it? >> ain't nobody know. >> your mom never knew? what was your reason? what made you change? what made you not think of suicide anymore?
>> my brother. >> your brother? that's a good reason. how old is he? >> 11. >> 11 years old. >> i do have two younger brothers and the one older brother. i've really been taking care of my two younger brothers since i was 13, because my mom's always been at work. so i basically raised them two. >> is he upset right now because you were arrested? >> yeah. >> was he with you guys? >> yeah. >> oh, so he had to see the whole thing? >> ayryana's hopes of having a fun friday night of football at her old high school were put on hold before the game even started. after being expelled from the school for fighting the previous year, her return to the campus was an unwelcome sight for the principal, who quickly summoned the mess to quickly escort her off the grounds.
>> i was going to a football game. it was supposed to be me and my mom and two brothers. my mom had to leave to take her boyfriend home. she was going to come right back. so when we go to buy tickets and the principal comes up and she says, because i don't go to that school, i couldn't go. so i had to leave. and she had the police come in my face and rush me down. >> according to police reports, ayryana resisted officers and was verbally abusive. she says with her little brothers already inside the game and no one to tell them that she was about to leave, she was faced with a difficult choice -- ignore police instructions and find her brothers or comply and leave the boys completely unsupervised with no way of knowing where she'd gone. luckily for the boys ayryana's mom arrived at the last minute. >> you seem very angry. are you mad right now? why? >> i just don't think it's right.
>> do you think you have anger problems? no? do you need the court to help you? you don't need the court's help? >> no. i'm fine. >> do you understand you're on probation? so this kind of looks bad on you. >> complicating ayryana's case are two prior offenses for driving without a license and battery on a classmate. her last day in court came with a warning. >> the probation officer told me if i got into any more trouble i was going to have to go to girls school. so, yeah, i'm real nervous. >> with the threat of girls school still fresh in her mind, ayryana gets ready for another weekend in detention, followed by another day in court and an outcome that could mean months away from home. >> i'm trying not to think about it. this is making me real nervous. i just don't know what's going to happen. usually i got an idea.
many of the underlying problems that land kids in detention are the result of defiant teen behavior mixed with stress at home. often older kids are caught in a difficult role of assuming the adult responsibilities of a single or absent parent. for ayryana, who regularly cares for her brothers while her mom works swing shifts at a local factory, being away from home makes an already tough situation worse. >> i can't take it in here. three days being locked up, not doing anything.
that's not good. after a while you start to get a little crazy. some seem to be so happy. it's like, how are you happy and you're in here? how do they do that? >> nationally nearly 30% of juvenile arrests involve females. sometimes the closed quarters and inherent anxiety of being locked up help create unexpected bonds. >> most of my friends are locked up right now, so there are a few girls that are good friends to me. like i can relate to them a lot. they're just really kind to me. just like me, i guess. a lot of stories. a lot of hardships. >> 17-year-old marie has a history of arrest for truancy and running away. but her problems began when she was a very small child. >> well, my mom died when i was a year old. i never knew my dad.
one of my mom's sisters adopted me when i was about 9 years old. but she had breast cancer, and they got a divorce. i went to my grandpa's house. that didn't work out. so i got sent to my aunt's house, and i just don't get along with them. i had major depression. so i didn't want to go to school. i used to be 245 pounds, too. i was huge. it was bad. >> if ever there was a time for someone, a system to intervene in their life, it's now. that's what the juvenile court does best. that's what our role is, to provide for all the services to help somebody grow into a responsible, productive person. >> in marie's case, being called before the juvenile court allowed her to get the help she needed. >> they sent me to this place called christian haven. it's a placement to help my attitude. it helped me lose weight and everything, so it helped my self see team and all that. so i got happier. >> marie will be released in less than a week. she will be sentenced to a
court-ordered independent living program. >> they teach you how to be independent. like you get your own place. you work your way up. you get your job. you go to school. you earn money. you get allowance. you just learn how to be like an adult. the main thing that i'm after is getting my education. and i don't really have, like, what i need to go there. you know. like i don't have a family to support me. i don't have any money. i don't know what to do. i don't know how to get there. all i know is i can get my high school diploma. so like four more days. >> though marie doesn't know what she'll do with her life yet, she does have one wish. >> perfect situation for me finally meeting my dad. he always left letters for me for when i grew up when i was a baby. so i've read those. he sounds like a nice guy. sounds like he cares about me. i'll probably try to find him when i'm 18. >> for marie, turning 18 means freedom.
but for aaron, becoming an adult could mean the end of his. with a long history of juvenile arrests, aaron is now a prime candidate to be waived to adult court. the one bright spot in aaron's life is a visit from his mother. >> happy belated birthday. did you enjoy your birthday in jail? >> no, i did not enjoy my birthday. >> now that aaron is 18, the court is deciding whether to deal with him as a juvenile or waive him to adult jail, which happens to be conveniently located across the street. >> if you do go across the street, i want you to build knowledge. you ain't going across the street for nothing. you're going across the street to improve yourself and become more than being across the street. you hear me? >> i ain't going there, though. this should be the end of my -- >> i hope not, because you're very immature. you've been very immature. a long time in life. you're like a kid that don't want to grow up. you just don't be hearing me. >> i do be hearing. >> you just -- you just want to just do what you do, huh?
i believe that this is happening for to mature you. because you know, on the streets what it's going to be for you. death. right? it was really bad out on the streets for you, and yet you were still out there. you've been stabbed. right? you've been beat. you know, it's just been bad. rough. you know? if you want me to continue to be a part of your life, son, you have to get it together. because i'm not about this here. no more. you're an adult young man now. so think about all of that. you hear me? you know? >> i'll take that thought. >> don't take that thought, say, i'm going to do this. that's the attitude it takes for
it to happen. i'm going to do this. hear me? >> my relationship with my mom is good. me and my mom are like best friends. she's disappointed in me being back here. i told her i wasn't going to come back. i miss my mom so much. i guess you don't know what you got till it's gone. you just told me you weren't involved in any of this. >> that's what i told them. i told them i didn't do it. >> i think that until her probation is over, she needs to have some restrictions. there are consequences to your actions.
the other thing i'm going to ask you to do, i want you to find a place where you can fellowship. find a place where you can fit in and fellowship. >> for years msnbc has been documenting the tragic stories that unfold in america's juvenile justice system. with extraordinary access from the indiana supreme court, we go inside a world where cameras are, by law, forbidden. >> how are you guys going to do that? you going to do it on your own? did you try to do it on your own before? did it work? >> for some of the kids locked up in lake county juvenile, the pressures are more than most teens can imagine. never has this been so painfully clear than when 16-year-old ayryana gets a visit from her mother.
>> you can't go to girls school. because it's like you're the center of the household. you can't go to girls school. what is everybody going to do? >> going to girls school means going to juvenile prison. a frightening prospect on its own. but ayryana also has to face what her absence could mean to the welfare of her entire family. >> on top of that, i have to pay your fees while i'm here tonight. that's $110 plus the money i lost saturday, which was overtime. >> because ayryana's mom works swing shifts at the local factory, it's up to ayryana to help raise her brothers and handle household chores. >> you got to get it together. i feel like i'm having panic attacks. you're not home. i can't talk to you. i didn't go to work friday. i couldn't get it together. stayed home. messed with your brothers. tried to get them to stop crying. >> it's ridiculous.
>> sometimes you just got to just hold up. be quiet. don't say nothing. control your temper, your emotions. >> i wasn't even given a chance to walk away. as soon as they seen me they had the police all in my face. it was crazy. and they did it in front of everybody. >> i have to giddyup. i have to try to get to the stores before they close. we need groceries and you didn't make a list for me. so i guess i'll see you in the morning and then we'll be going home afterwards. >> i hope so. it's just, i don't want to deny the charges and then have to sit in here and wait for another court date like everybody else. you have to sit in here and sit in here and wait. and then you go on trial. and then, like i said, the police officer against you. been here twice. i mean, who are you going to believe? >> so you just say that you're guilty just to go home?
>> it's crazy. >> you can't go to girls school. because you'll be home tomorrow washing dishes. cleaning up. >> hopefully. >> ain't no hopefully, you're going home. okay, i better go. see you in the morning. >> with court scheduled for the next morning, ayryana prepares to spend what she hopes will be her last night in detention. >> i just hope i get to go home. if anything worse comes, house arrest, i guess. girls school is, from what i've heard, like it's just the worst thing. >> over in the boys' pod, 18-year-old aaron ashburn knows even boys school would be better than what he'll be facing in the morning. >> tomorrow is like a waiver hearing, trying to waive me across the street. the tension is killing me. i just wish i knew what in the world was going on. right now i probably won't get
too much sleep tonight because i'm thinking about the consequences for my actions. i feel kind of anxious to know what's going on. i feel kind of sad and beat. i'm beating up myself about everything i put upon myself. it's all my fault. like my mom told me today, i just need to grow up and be a man. i'm just a big kid. >> now one month into his latest stint in detention, the seriousness of his situation is finally stinking in. a stark contrast to the personality on display when he was first brought into lcjc. >> i can't stop getting behind the wheel. i was walking down the street. i seen someone left the keys in the ignition. i took that car, too. >> a need for speed. >> i've been in two high-speed chases. three, four. yeah! took me longer than what it was supposed to for me to learn. i still -- i think i learned
this time, because i know the seriousness of my situation. i think i learned. i feel i'm going to pray tonight and hopefully god gives me this chance to get out maybe on one of those little house arrest things. then i can work my way from there. i know i can. >> with less than 12 hours to go before court, the kids at lake county juvenile invent their own ways to relieve the stress. ♪ i hope i go home >> the night before court is never an easy one. tomorrow aaron and ayryana will both go before the judge. ayryana, who is already on probation, risks being placed in girls school. but aaron faces the toughest punishment the juvenile courts can dole out. being waived across the street to the adult jail.
today is court day at the lake county juvenile center. judge mary beth bonaventura and her five fellow judges will hear more than 3,000 cases in a year. some will be simple detention hearings. while others will be trials for serious offenses. 16-year-old ayryana has spent the weekend in detention for disorderly conduct at a high school football game.
it's not her first time in juvenile. with two previous trips to the courtroom, the judge will have to decide whether ayryana should remain locked up or be allowed to go home with her mother. >> i want to tell the judge the whole story and just let her know that i -- i am going to school. i have changed a lot since the last time i have been to court. >> with the long, tense weekend behind her, it is finally ayryana's turn to tell her story. >> tell me what happened. >> me and my brother and a friend, we was going in line to get our tickets for the football game. and the principal had stopped me, and she said, well, um, i don't go to the school no more so either i had to leave or i had to go to the other side. when she came up, she came up with a police officer. so i said, um, okay, well i got to get my brothers first. he said, no, i asked you to leave. the man put the handcuffs on me and took me to the police car. that's when my mom pulled up. and he had told her i was cussing at him and all of this.
>> were you? >> no, i wasn't. >> no more questions, judge. >> ayryana, are you on probation? >> yes, i am. >> what are on you on probation for? >> for battery and driving without a license. >> what did that battery involve? >> me and my friends and fighting a female. >> you and your friends? how many friends? >> i think it was five of us. >> there was five of you. fighting with another person, right? >> yes. >> with one lone person? >> yes. >> and you beat up this victim, right? >> uh-huh. >> and then you go to the football game, and you end up getting arrested, and you say you didn't do anything, though, right? >> right. >> and you weren't saying anything. >> no, i wasn't saying anything to him. >> you weren't screaming profanities at him? >> no, i wasn't. >> how was it you became arrested, then? >> i don't know. >> i have no further questions, judge.
>> all right, thank you. you may have a seat back there. >> the purpose of today's hearing is to determine what should happen to ayryana. do you have an opinion as to what the court should do? >> i want my daughter home with me. >> how is she doing in school? >> she's doing real good this year. i took her to a different school. i didn't want her with the same people. >> do you believe that the environment at her former school was part of the reason why she was having her anger problems? >> yes. >> so you recognized the problem and did something about it? >> yes. >> are you able to provide supervision over her? >> yes. >> when do you work? >> i work swing shifts, rotating backwards. >> explain that in a little more detail. >> i finish midnights today and i start afternoons wednesday. >> with such an irregular work schedule, it falls on ayryana to take over the responsibilities at home and play mother to her two brothers. a source of much frustration for her and partially why ayryana finds herself here today.
>> when i finish i may or may not have a day off. then i go to day turns and then back to midnights, rotating backwards. >> okay, okay. that's all that i have, judge. >> thank you, you may have a seat. >> to get a final perspective on the case, the judge calls on the probation department for their recommendation. ayryana knows that the department's testimony could make or break her case. as high as the stakes are for ayryana, aaron is facing the ultimate punishment for a life of juvenile crime, being waived to the adult system. >> i'm ready to get it over with. because i'm 18 now. i'm ready to move on with my life. and change. i'm saying, make a different page. i'm tired of this juvenile jail stuff. i'm tired of jail, period. >> good morning. how are you? i believe his attorney is going to speak with him. >> aaron learns that his attorney has worked out a plea bargain. if he accepts the deal, aaron will get to stay in the juvenile
system. if he doesn't, aaron will most likely be heading across the street to adult prison on multiple felonies. >> i'm going to talk to my mom. i need some personal counseling. i remember my mom told me like, no, if you didn't do it, don't plead guilty. >> yeah, you've definitely got some soul-searching to do to make a decision. >> hey, mom. they told me that if i plead guilty, they'll release me from here, no probation, no nothing. if i don't plead the guilty plea, there's still a chance they'll send me across the street. if they send me across the street then i'll be facing charges over there. yeah, because i was thinking like maybe i'll just get it over with here and then go down there and see what they want to do down there. >> just days past his 18th birthday, aaron is already faced with an adult decision of epic proportions.
go with the guilty plea and remove adult jail time from the table. or follow his mother's principled advice, that he should not plead guilty to something he says he didn't do. >> that's what i'm going to do. yes, ma'am. i love you, too. >> you all right? do you have any idea what you're going to do? >> i wanted to go ahead and plead guilty and get it over with. my mom done steered me wrong. >> not wanting to disappoint his mother, aaron chooses to walk down the righteous path of the truth will set you free. it's a huge gamble on his future to please his mom, especially if aaron isn't being honest about his innocence, something only he can know for sure. >> what should i forward on to your attorney? >> not guilty. >> he's the only person that can make that decision. you know, he can't let anybody
else influence him, so time will tell. >> i'm willing to plead guilty to this but i want to be assured that i can get back here. >> you just told me you weren't involved in any of it. >> there is an element to her that does endanger herself and does endanger others. that needs to be addressed by this court.
after hearing from 16-year-old ayryana and her mother, judge mary beth bonaventura now weighs the input of ayryana's probation officer. with firsthand involvement in the child's life, the opinion of the probation department is critical. >> went to the charter school this morning to get an update on how this young lady was doing. i spoke to two of her teachers, a science teacher and an english
teacher. they report that she's very well behaved. she's getting excellent grades. so we do want her to continue her education. we feel that that's very important. we also have a concern about some possible depression. so we would like to have a mental health screening and to follow through with any recommendations. we would like to see her released to her mother's care on in-house arrest so she can continue attending school. i have spoken to mother this morning and explained to her what our concerns were and what the recommendation would be. >> all right. mrs. kusik, do you have any anything about release or detention? >> judge, until i'd heard the mother speak, i was of a mind that ayryana could go home. i'm concerned. she's at the football game. her mother leaves her a brief time and this is when this problem arises.
then her mother testifies that she works a swing shift and ayryana is basically not being supervised in the home. she's on probation for the battery that was described. she was arguing with a police officer. whether she says she was or not. there's some type of impulse control problem here that ayryana has that leaves me very concerned. i think there is an element to her that does endanger herself and does endanger others. that needs to be addressed by this court. >> judge, the mistake she made was to wait and find her 10 and 11-year-old brother. and apparently their feet weren't moving fast enough for the police officer at that point. that's why she's in here. judge, i would agree with the probation department's recommendation that the systems for the depression be ordered. but i disagree with the probation department's recommendation that she be on house arrest for a fight at school and for not leaving a football game fast enough. i think that that is overkill. >> thank you.
>> with all the testimony now in, the judge weighs her decision. >> the decision the court has to make today is twofold. one is if there is a probable cause that this child has committed a delinquent act, and that's uncontroverted and for that police officer in the report says she was very vulgar to him and, you know, used a lot of profanity. for her to say that she said nothing is hard to believe. you know, minimally, my voice is going to be elevated saying, i've got to get my sibling, at least. so i think somewhere in the admit, if you live long enough, you kind of know somewhere in the middle is the truth. the second decision i have to make is whether or not she should be detained here or be released to the custody of her mother. nothing i heard here today makes me believe she's a danger to other people or to herself. so the court is going to order that she be released to the custody of her mother. but i am going to place her on in-house arrest for this reason. i think until this case is over and until her probation is over, she needs to have some restrictions. there are consequences to your actions. i'll order she have a mental
health screening within 30 days and that you follow those recommendations to address whether or not she has depression and, if so, what help is out there for her. all right. then this hearing is adjourned. thank you. >> ayryana, you're going home. >> she's not somebody i think that's a real threat to the community, but more that has some anger issues that hopefully we can help her. that's what we're designed to do. we have children, and they are just doing things for the first time in their life. they're going through experiences that we as adults have experienced maybe too many times. but the adult system isn't equipped, nor does the law allow them to provide for all of these services from counseling to drug testing to vocational training to all sorts of services is that would help rehabilitate somebody. >> to have somebody actually fight for me to get out, it feels pretty good. i think everybody has depression issues at some point in their lives. i mean, i know i'm not crazy, but i do think i need to be in
therapy. yeah. i think i do. but i guess that's going to be a good thing. >> while ayryana heads home, aaron's attorney meets with him to discuss his decision to follow his mother's advice and turn down a plea bargain. aaron and his mother are hoping police will be unable to show probable cause that aaron committed the crimes for which he is accused. >> the prosecutor's office is giving you this one-time opportunity to try to get this case resolved. are you not clear as to believing that they have enough on you? is that what the problem is? >> yeah, i know they don't. i didn't even do it. >> what the police officer is saying that is you basically fled from this vehicle and they chased you down, and that they were on foot pursuit pursuing you, and that led to your arrest. >> i don't even know nothing about -- >> were you driving a white expedition at any time? >> no. >> around that time period? >> no. >> you never took off running?
you're saying none of that happened? >> none of that happened. >> all right. then i'll let the state know that you're going to not accept the proposal that was offered to resolve your case. >> aaron's complete denial of all wrongdoing puts a troubling new twist on the situation. >> i'm willing to plead guilty to this but i want to assure i can get back here -- >> you just told me you weren't involved in in any of this? >> i know, that's what i told them, i told them i didn't do it. >> i can't have you go ahead and make an admission. >> with aaron denying the charges against him, the attorney will now tell the prosecutor's office they are rejecting the final plea agreement. aaron will have to take his chances that the state will be unable to prove its case against him. >> it's an uphill climb. right? so you know. okay? >> i understand. >> okay. i'll be in touch. >> with so much at stake, residential supervisor jamie pedanish wants to make sure aaron really understands the consequences of his denial.
>> once you have an adult charge you have no opportunity whatsoever of that charge going away like you do with a juvenile charge, which you can file for the court to expunge it. >> you're looking at two, two felonies right now. you're 18 now, aren't you? that's not a good start. if you accept this resolution, what would end up happening is you get your life straightened out, go to school, get a job. you would show the court i'm on the right track now, my life is in order, and the court would consider that in this determination. >> we're going to tough it out. >> okay. >> i really feel good when i can help get a youngster on the right path. but unfortunately sometimes they're their biggest obstacle. >> aaron says one of his biggest concerns is the outstanding bench warrant for battery that remains in illinois. even if he takes the plea agreement and gets out of lcjc, he'll still have to face the music across the state line. that along with his mother's
continued advice to fight this out has aaron completely confused. >> yeah, i'm kind of surprised actually. most kids think they're grown at 13 and can make their own decisions without parental input. so for him at 18 to be so concerned of mom's input, it's kind of unusual. >> i know what i wanted to do. but my mom doesn't steer me wrong. like i said, she always be on my side. you have two minutes. >> okay. >> if they've accepted the plea, he's a lucky man.
aaron turned down a plea bargain based on his mother's advice that he shouldn't plead guilty to something he says he didn't do. having turned 18 since his detention, aaron could be facing adult jail time. he's tired of being locked up, and he is ready to do whatever it takes to get out. >> i'm ready to go home. just ready to get it over with. i'm innocent. i just want to get it over with. >> admitting guilt is the only way aaron can be sure his case will stay in juvenile court. >> all right, aaron, you ready? let's do it. kneel down, please. you know this is your waiver, right? >> they told me if i plea guilty to something, they're going to drop something on me. >> have you agreed to do that? >> yeah. >> so you're plea bargaining it? is that what i'm hearing? >> yes. >> your mom is in agreeance with that? >> no.
>> oh, she's not? but how is she going to feel if you accept it, then? >> i don't know. >> how do you feel about that? >> i don't know. i'm 18. i got to make some decisions by myself. >> yeah. i understand that. >> i'm willing to make the changes for the better for myself. i'm not a bad kid like that. i just went down the wrong path. i'm ready to go the right way now. i'm ready to get it over with. >> all righty. hope it all works out for you. >> it's better to get it over with. no more probation. no more restrictions. i can get on with my life, get a good job, and put this behind me. you know? >> three months in detention has changed aaron's perspective. but as he makes his way to court aaron's decision to accept the plea faces one more painful test. >> your mom's out there saying she doesn't want you to accept the plea. she thinks you didn't do anything wrong. so it's up to you.
>> in the face of his mother's continued opposition to the plea bargain, aaron's resolve crumbles. >> i thought you just said you wanted to move on with your life. >> i did. >> you can't keep doing this. you've got to make a decision. >> the judge will probably just say let's put in a waiver and i'm not going to accept the plea right now. so you got to decide now. >> you've got two minutes for the young man to make a decision. >> okay. >> all right. come on. >> are you doing the plea agreement, then? >> yeah. >> okay. >> while our cameras wait outside, aaron enters the courtroom for one final chance to enter a plea. >> if they've accepted the plea, he's a lucky man. if they haven't, he's in for a long process yet to come.
>> what aaron decides in the next five minutes will affect his future for years to come. >> it's my understanding the parties have reached an agreement to resolve this matter, is that correct? >> yes, your honor. >> mr. ash burn, this the agreement as you understand it? mr. ashburn, is this the agreement that you understand? >> yeah. >> i'm sorry? >> yeah. >> i can't hear you, mr. ashburn. can you speak up, please? >> yes. >> as aaron struggles to speak, his mother makes her opinion clear. >> the record will note that his mother has left the room. mr. ashburn, do you have some reluctance to enter into this agreement? is there a reason why you're refusing to respond? >> how would you feel if your mother walked out on you? >> sorry, sir? >> how would you feel if your
mother walked out on you? >> aaron's refusal or inability to speak forces the judge to decide for him. >> we'll reconvene on december 18th at 9:00. be prepared to go forward with the waiver. i won't accept any agreements. >> the judge's decision eliminates aaron's chance at a plea bargain. his next court appearance will be a waiver hearing where the state will make a case for handing aaron over to the adult system. still, that's not the main thing on aaron's mind. >> she walked out on me. she walked out on me. >> why? because you took the plea? is that what you think? >> it was. she don't understand when you're in a trap, you got to take a risk and you got to admit when you're wrong. and i was wrong. i did things that i shouldn't have did. and they give me an opportunity. and she don't understand. i just didn't know what to do, man. i was lost.
it made it worse. i didn't have my mom's support like i always have my mom's support. it just made it even worse. i just like -- i don't know what to do, man. it's like telling me to choose something i couldn't choose. that was just the worst thing she could have ever did. she never did nothing like that before. i feel like if i ain't got my mom, i ain't got nobody.
due to mature subject matter, viewer direction is advised. there's only one way out of here. i'm going to leave here in a body bag. >> i had three life sentences, and i figured there was no way i was ever going to get out legally. so i figured i had nothing to lose. so i'd escape any chance i got. >> i have a 14-year-old son. almost 7-year-old daughter. means everything to me. can't wait to get home. i just don't want to let them down ever again. ♪