Jenks teen murder suspect Joshua Mooney to be tried as adult in home invasion, murder case

JENKS, Okla. - Fifteen-year-old Joshua Mooney, accused of breaking into a Jenks home and executing a woman inside will be tried as an adult, a Tulsa County district judge ruled Friday.

Mooney, who is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree burglary and robbery with a firearm, has a Dec. 2 court date for his alleged role in the home invasion and death of 47-year-old Nevada woman Mary Escue in December 2012.

Escue, who was in Jenks visiting her parents and children for a college graduation, was found slumped over in a chair in the family home with a gunshot wound to her head.

The following day Mooney was arrested, and has since admitted to killing the woman after she came home midway through the then-14-year-old's break-in attempt.

Friday's rejection of Mooney's motion to be tried as a youthful offender involved several factors, according to the court filing, including testing that placed Mooney in the "96th percentile in risk of future dangerousness" and the 17 previous run-ins the teen had had with law enforcement since 2011.

Mooney's behavior since his arrest also contributed to the motion's denial. The court affidavits mentioned two violent incidents, one being the discovery of a shank in his possession while at David L. Moss Detention Facility, and the other a video recorded inside the jail. 

The video depicts Mooney pointing fingers to his head in the shape of a gun, according to the documents, apparently "reveling in being identified with the nickname of 'headshot.'"

In a phone interview, Mooney's attorney chalked up the teen's behavior during the video recording to harmless immaturity.

"What (the judge) saw was a 14-year-old acting as a teenager. Kids go along to get along," said public defender Jack Zanerhaft. "He was acting in his context. It is inappropriate to focus on such a small sliver of what's available in this case. To make a judgment based on ‘horsing around' is misplaced."

Zanerhaft also made clear his client's plan to appeal the decision on constitutional grounds.

"On behalf of the family, we're disappointed," he said. "We will appeal to the Court of Appeals in OKC. This is not only about Josh's status. There is a lot more. We have not even begun trial proceedings. There are some serious constitutional charges here."

The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office were naturally happier with the judge's ruling.

"It's very gratifying," said DA spokesman Stephen Kunzweiler. "Any time you're dealing with a case where a tragedy such as what befell Ms. Escue and all the impact that had on her family, it's a rough ride from beginning to end."

Escue's husband declined to comment on the judge's ruling., but her father-in-law, Richard Escue, said the family is "pleased" he's being charged as an adult.

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