Pennsylvania boy, 10, to be tried as juvenile in beating death of woman, 90

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 05, 2015 5:46 PM

By Elizabeth Daley

Pittsburgh, Pa. (Reuters) - A Pennsylvania judge ruled on Monday that a 10-year-old boy charged as an adult in the beating death of an elderly woman will have his trial moved to juvenile court, attorneys said.

Tristen Kurilla of Damascus, Pennsylvania, a small township 120 miles northwest of New York City, was arrested in October on charges of criminal homicide and aggravated assault in the killing of 90-year-old Helen Novak at the home of Kurilla's grandfather.

The Wayne County Court judge's decision on Monday came after a psychologist who examined Kurilla testified that the boy should be treated as a juvenile, said Scott Bennett, a public defender representing Tristen.

"Today was the big question in this case," Bennett said.

A spokesman the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General said prosecutors were satisfied with the court's ruling.

On Oct. 11, Kurilla was visiting his grandfather who was acting as Novak's caretaker, the complaint said.

Kurilla told police that he became upset when Novak yelled at him, so he beat her with a cane and punched her in the stomach and throat, the complaint said.

Martha Virbitsky, Tristen's mother, turned her son in to police after he told her of the attack, the complaint said.

"I killed that lady," Tristen told police during his interrogation when asked about Novak, according to the complaint.

When asked by police if he was trying to kill Novak, Tristen said, "No, I was only trying to hurt her," the complaint said.

The county coroner ruled throat swelling and hemorrhaging caused by an attack lead to Novak's death.

After the judge's decision, Kurilla was removed from the adult correctional facility where he had been held as a segregated inmate since his arrest, Bennett said.

(Editing by Laila Kearney and David Gregorio)