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Charles P. Ewing, a University of Buffalo forensic psychiatrist usually described by newspaper reporters as an "expert on children who kill their parents," is best remembered here in Niagara Falls for his passionate defense of Billy Shrubsall.
After Shrubsall brutally beat his mother to death with a baseball bat here in 1988, Ewing told anyone who'd listen that the killer was just a mixed-up kid.
"The typical justification for jail time is just not there," Ewing said in an interview following the murder. "He's not going to go out and hurt anybody."
In part because of Ewing's testimony, Shrubsall ended up serving just 16 months. He then embarked on a sadistic 10-year spree involving rape, sodomy, attempted murder and other crimes against as many as 20 women. Following Shrubsall's 1998 arrest in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for vicious attacks against four women there, Ewing was unavailable for comment on the case.
Last week, however, he was back in the news, this time pontificating in connection with the case of 13-year-old Timothy Adams. According to state police in Albion, young Adams bound his 9-year-old sister's hands and feet with duct tape, stuffed a sock in her mouth and wrapped a belt around her head. He then went out into the yard and used a pistol to shoot his father five times -- twice in the chest and three times in the back.
For good measure, he blasted away with a shotgun at police, who were pursuing him in a wild car chase at speeds of up to 90 miles an hour. When finally captured, he confessed, police said.
In an interview Friday, Ewing said the matter should be handled in Family Court.
"I don't see the justification morally, philosophically or criminologically for imposing adult sanctions on people who are clearly not adults," he told a reporter. "I don't believe 13 is an appropriate age."
Frankly, we don't think 13 is an appropriate age to be doing the sorts of things Adams allegedly confessed to. Furthermore, we find it highly inappropriate for Ewing to be making public comment on a case he knows absolutely nothing about. After Billy Shrubsall, he should know better.