WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 22, 2012, 08:40 PM

Juveniles responsible for Giant Panda robbery brings up court questions

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Two juveniles are in custody today after police suspect they robbed Giant Panda at gunpoint last Friday.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Two juveniles are in custody today after police suspect they robbed Giant Panda at gunpoint last Friday.

Police arrested a 15-year-old boy and a 17-year-old girl in connection with that robbery.

Police believe the get-away driver from the Giant Panda robbery is the same person who robbed Gordy's gas station in Mapleton at gunpoint.

Police say 2-people with a shotgun walked into the restaurant and took money from a cash register.

They left in a vehicle waiting outside. driven by the teen who allegedly robbed Gordy's Monday night.

It's a crime that has many in this community shocked at the ages of these alleged criminals.

But will they be tried as adults?

When talking about minors, it can be a sensitive issue. We don't know their names or their addresses, just age and gender.

And the question of whether to put them in adult court or to stay in juvenile court is a delicate one. One that Cass County isn't sure of yet.

Birch Burdick, Cass County States Attorney: “If they're juveniles, we charge them in juveniles court because that's what the law requires of us. But if the law allows and the facts allow it, then we can ask the juvenile court to consider transferring that case to adult court.”

When trying murder cases or certain sex crimes, referral to adult court is automatic. But when dealing with robberies, even armed robberies, the water tends to get merky.

Burdick: “There is a permissive transfer, it's something that's in the discretion of the court and sometimes you can't transfer them at all.”

Cass County States Attorney Birch Burdick says there are a variety of things that go into determining whether or not a juvenile can be referred to adult court.

Burdick: “Some of the factors the court considers is the age of the child, the maturity fo the child, the mental capacity of the child, the nature of the crime, the risk to public safety, the ability of that juvenile to be rehabilitated. It comes.”

But for the Fargo Police Department and other authorities, the number one priority is to get violent criminals off the streets.

Lt. Joel Vettel, Fargo Police Department: “When you have a violent crime involving a weapon, regardless of the age, certainly the potential to move that onto a higher court, and adult court is there and is appropriate.”

If they are charged with armed robbery, the class B felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

Right now there is no immediate time table for that decision.