Teen charged with murder at KC middle school placed in Division of Youth Services custody
The family of a 14-year-old boy fatally stabbed to death in his middle school last year in Kansas City exited a Wednesday hearing at the Family Justice Center as if still in mourning, after a judge ruled on custody arrangements for the teen accused with the murder.
The mother, Vicenta Guzman, and another family member, Maria Guzman, dressed all in black for the dispositional hearing, which stretched more than two and a half hours. It concluded with Family Court Administrative Judge Kevin Harrell placing the juvenile charged with the murder in the custody of the Division of Youth Services.
The juvenile’s identity has not been publicized or shared by authorities because of his age.
The 15-year-old is accused of stabbing and killing 14-year-old Manuel Guzman in their Northeast Middle School bathroom on April 12, 2022. He was initially charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and unlawful weapon use, but under a plea agreement, agreed to the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, which is a class B felony under Missouri law.
The Guzman family spoke out against the plea in a May 12 rally, saying they were disappointed with how the case was prosecuted.
“We lost so much during this process with my child. And for them to just accuse him of manslaughter. I disagree,” Vicenta Guzman said during a weekend rally.
Her sorrow was clear to the dozens in the courthouse waiting room Wednesday morning. Tears rolled down her cheeks, which were red from crying. She wept for a few minutes with Maria Guzman, who sat in a wheelchair with a breathing tube. Then the pair moved into a nearby elevator.
Both declined to answer questions. An attorney for the family was not immediately available to discuss the hearing.
In an afternoon statement about the hearing, Valerie Hartman, a public information officer for Jackson County, said evidence was entered and recommendations were made by the defense attorney and the Office of the Juvenile Officer as to where the juvenile should be placed.
The family of the victim also addressed the court.
“The Division of Youth Services will decide where the juvenile will be placed, how long he will be held and what his treatment plan will entail,” Hartman said.