16-year-old boy charged as adult
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Escambia County District Attorney Steve Billy reportedly made the decision to try a 16-year-old Atmore boy as an adult in the February 20 shooting death of the 16-year-old girl he had been dating.
The suspect, who cannot be identified under Alabama law, was taken into custody shortly after he shot Escambia County High School volleyball player Janyia Wilson, 16, then drove her unresponsive body to Atmore Community Hospital, where she was officially declared dead a few minutes later.
Under the Alabama Confidentiality Act that went into effect in August 2021, with regard to a suspect of age 17 or younger, even if he or she is tried as an adult, the juvenile’s name, photo, likeness or any other identifying information is protected and “may not be published in any printed or electronic media nor open to public inspection” unless and until that person is convicted of the crime with which he or she is charged.
Atmore police said the female victim — later identified by family members as Wilson — and the boy she had been dating recently were sitting in a vehicle parked near the intersection of Carver and Ashley streets, next to Mike & Ike Food Market, around 10 p.m. when the fatal incident took place.
Rumors about the tragic incident and what caused it have swirled across the community, including one that was published in an area newspaper.
Sgt. Darrell McMann, who serves as public information officer for the Atmore Police Department, said police don’t deal in rumors.
“There are a lot of rumors going around that are completely false, spoken and printed by people who have no idea what they are talking about,” McMann said. “The motive is still under investigation.”
McMann said the teen was charged as an adult after APD investigators talked with the DA, who could not be reached for comment on the case.
One rumor was that police have been looking for a second, or perhaps different, suspect or “person of interest” in the fatal shooting.
“Investigators have determined who was responsible for the murder and (have) arrested the individual who was responsible for the murder,” McMann said. “Investigators are not searching for anyone else. The details of the case will play out in court.”
According to employees of the Escambia County Detention Center’s booking and release division, the 16-year-old murder suspect remained in the jail, under a $1 million bond, as midweek approached. He is currently charged with one count of simple murder.