Twin mothers seek new court status

Published 3:45 pm Thursday, February 23, 2012

Twin Atmore sisters accused of murder in the November 2011 deaths of their three children are seeking youthful offender status.

Akeevia Lajoseia Abner and Tekeevia Lajoseialan Abner, both 18, have been behind bars in the Escambia County Detention Center in Brewton since their November arrest, held on $300,000 bond each. Their arraignment was scheduled for Thursday.

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The women’s three children, all age 3 and under, were killed in a house fire when they were left home alone.

The sisers’ expected court appearance Thursday didn’t materialize after an attorney representing the suspects said an application for youthful offender status has been made to the courts on behalf of the suspects.

Atmore attorney Ben Brown and Brewton attorney Wade Hartley are representing the two women in the case.

Brown said the two would not be appearing in court for an arraignment or to enter a plea since the application had been made in their behalf.

“They won’t be coming up,” Brown said Thursday afternoon. “The application for youthful offender status for them has been made. They won’t be appearing in court today.”

Brown did not say when, or if, the courts would grant the youthful offender status request made by attorneys representing the defendants.

According to Alabama law, defendants under the age of 21 may be granted youthful offender status. As a youthful offender, defendants waive their right to a jury trial and consent to be tried by the court without a jury. The court will perform an investigation and examination of the defendants record and in its discretion, decide whether or not to grant the status.

Defendants who are granted youthful offender status may be sentenced to probation no longer than three years, face fines or taken into custody with the Department of Corrections for no more than three years.

Adults charged with the crime of murder face life in prison under Alabama law.

No court date for a trial or hearing has been set in the case.

The pair stands accused of murder in the death of three children, 3-year-old Aniyia Abner, 3-year-old Takia Abner and 22-month-old Michael Coleman.

“They showed an extreme indifference to these children’s lives and created a grave risk of death to the children by leaving them home alone on Nov. 2,” District Attorney Steve Billy said in a statement when the twins were arrested.

The fire was caused from leaving a stove unattended, according to a preliminary fire marshal’s report.