A 14-year-old boy has been ordered by a court in Sandusky County, Ohio, to undergo mental and background evaluations to determine whether he should face adult charges in the fatal shooting of his 14-year-old cousin. On Friday, Sandusky County Prosecutor Tim Braun said in court that Elijah Starks was "gambling with other people's lives" when he killed cousin Jaylen Brock last month in Fremont.

Teenaged Starks had a revolver that was loaded with two cartridges. Witnesses claim that Starks pointed the gun at Brock and another boy. When Starks first pulled the trigger, there was no discharge. With the second pull of the trigger, Starks allegedly put a round into his cousin's chest, killing him.

Starks now faces murder and other juvenile charges. In his defense, Starks' attorney argues the shooting was just an accident. When first questioned by police, Starks claimed the shooting was accidental, but has since clammed up since lawyering up.

Starks has admitted to stealing the pistol in question from the dresser in his aunt's home, hours before the shooting began. The pistol was recovered after the crime about a half-mile away from where Brock was shot to death in his back yard. Starks used a .38 Special Smith and Wesson five-shot revolver.

Brock's sister, Troyonah Darby, told The News-Messenger that Starks shot her brother because the two were in a gang that Brock wanted out of . When she called 911 on the day of the death, she screamed for help and told a dispatcher that her brother was "leaking blood." Brock's mother, Tania Darby, denied that her son was a gang member. In an interview with The News-Messenger, she claimed that Troyonah believed the death was gang-related because "that is what she heard."

Prosecutor Braun said that all possibilities as to Starks' motives are being investigated. Josiah Shetzer, 14, and Elijah Brown, 14 -- who were on the scene at the shooting -- were charged with obstruction of official police business. On Monday, Braun said that they will have not face additional charges. More hearings in the case are expected in order to determine whether it will be sent to a common pleas court. A final decision would be made by a common pleas court judge.

Starks is known to authorities, having spent some time at the Sandusky County Juvenile Detention Center. He is scheduled to appear in Sandusky County Juvenile Court on Thursday. Police records show that Starks is suspected of participating in a strong-armed robbery on July 13 when police allege he punched a 13-year-old in the face after the boy refused to surrender a cell phone. The victim claimed that Starks threatened to "have someone else get you" after the altercation.

Later this summer, Starks was named a suspect in a break-in at the Angler's Supplies store in Fremont OH. In that case, he was charged with breaking and entering, theft, and complicity to possess criminal tools. Police report that Starks and alleged accomplice Elijah Kelly, 18, pried open a door at the store and stole merchandise valued at $1,400. 

Starks' mother, Tania Darby told police that she had difficulties with Starks and his friend Elijah Brown. The latter was charged with obstruction in Brock's fatal shooting. Police were called to Darby's home at 344 Jackson St. in Fremont, having received a report that the two boys had defecated on Darby's back porch. After examining the feces, the responding officer said that the feces appeared to be from a dog. However, the officer notified that her son was not welcome at 344 Jackson St. It was there in October that Starks allegedly shot Brock to death.

Starks was early charged with disorderly conduct at Fremont Middle School, having been suspended for fighting and allegedly pulling down the pants of a student, exposing the boy's genitals to other students in a hallway. A week before that incident, Starks was suspended for fighting a 13-year-old classmate outside Fremont Middle School on May 3. In 2015, Starks was accused of punching a boy in the face near Starks' Dickinson Street home in Fremont.

 

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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