Tanner Wood will be tried as an adult on suspicion of murder in the July 2016 death of his younger sister at their Rocklin home, a Sacramento judge ruled Friday.
Wood’s head was bowed but he otherwise showed little emotion as Sacramento Superior Court Judge James Arguelles rendered his ruling at Friday’s transfer hearing to determine whether the teen would be tried as a minor or an adult.
Wood was 14 years old when prosecutors say he killed 13-year-old Ashley Wood on July 19, 2016. The case involving the son and daughter of a Placer County homicide prosecutor shocked the county’s legal community.
Their mother discovered Ashley’s body in a bedroom of the home. Tanner Wood was found in a field near the home, police said. Police would later say the death resulted from blunt-force trauma.
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The unusual case was quickly moved to Sacramento Superior Court and prosecuted by the state Attorney General’s Office once the Placer County District Attorney’s Office declared a conflict of interest.
On Friday, Arguelles said the circumstances of the alleged crime were too grave for the case to be heard in juvenile court. Wood, now 15, would have faced a maximum of 10 years in juvenile custody if convicted as a minor. As an adult, his penalty could be much steeper.
Defense counsel Kevin Adamson argued that Wood should be spared from adult court because of his age at the time of his sister’s death and said the siblings’ parents wanted their son to stay in juvenile custody.
“They’re obviously devastated, to say the least, but they want him to remain in a juvenile court,” Adamson said.
Adamson was circumspect after the hearing.
“We just have to deal with it in adult court,” he said. “There will be a jury trial on the matter and we have to try to find a way to resolve it. That’s the concentration now.”
Wood, who is being held in El Dorado County custody, was arraigned on the murder charge but did not enter a plea Friday. He was returned to Placerville to be held without bail. He will next appear in Sacramento on June 22, though it was not immediately clear whether he will be tried in Sacramento or Placer County.