Updated date:

Joshua Phillips: 14-Year-Old Murderer of Maddie Clifton

Antonia is a writer who is fascinated by mysteries and psychology. She writes many articles about criminal cases.

Was It an Accident or an Act of Murder?

It was November 3rd, 1998, when 8-year-old Maddie Clifton went missing in Jacksonville, Florida. When she was reported missing and police began searching for her, they started interviewing the neighbours. Almost immediately they had a neighbour in mind as a suspect. That neighbour had been arrested and charged more than 15 years earlier in two sexual battery cases, although both times the charges against him had been dropped. As it turned out, their suspect was the wrong man, but her murderer was indeed a neighbour.

Hidden Under the Bed for a Week

Hundreds of people would volunteer in the search for Maddie, scouring the woods and dumpsters around the neighbourhood. The search for Maddie would end a week after she first disappeared, but it wasn't searchers or police who found her body. It was Melissa Phillips, 14-year-old Joshua Phillips' mother, who found her. Thinking that her son's water bed appeared to be leaking, she went to inspect it and found Maddie Clifton's corpse hidden underneath. She ran out of the house and immediately went to the police.

She was a little girl who didn't deserve to die.

— Josh Phillips, six years later

Maddie's school photo.

Maddie's school photo.

Maddie's grave.

Maddie's grave.

What Happened and Why?

Josh Phillips was at school when the discovery was made, and that's where police arrested him. Everyone was completely shocked. The 14-year-old boy had absolutely no history of violence, and no one wanted to believe that he could be capable of murder, but he was.

Josh confessed to the police that he had murdered Maddie, but it started off with an accident, he said. Josh claimed that they had been playing together, and he had panicked after he accidentally hit Maddie in the head with a baseball. He carried her into the house, brought her into his bedroom and put her on the floor, where she began to make noise and cry. He said he was afraid of his dad's reaction if he found Maddie in the house. He was scared, and he didn't want to get in trouble for hurting her, so in a panic, he beat her with a baseball bat and stabbed her to keep her from screaming and crying. Police were able to retrieve both the bat and the knife used in the assault. He then hid her body under his bed.

When asked years later how he could go on with his life with her body hidden in his bedroom, he said that he even though he made no conscious decision to, he just ignored it. He was in denial and he couldn't believe in the reality of it, so he lived in a fantasy world, like nothing had happened.

When asked why this happened, Josh says he doesn't really know, even to this day. Phillips has stated that if he could take it all back, he would.

Trial, Verdict, and Sentencing

Joshua Earl Patrick Phillips, at the age of 15, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of his 8-year-old neighbour and playmate, Madelyn Clifton. Due to the severity of the crime, he was charged and tried as an adult.

His trial was moved to a different county due to the flood of media coverage in the Jacksonville area. He was convicted of the first-degree murder, and on August 20th, 1999, he was sentenced to life in prison without chance of parole. He was not eligible for the death penalty in Florida because he was under the age of 16 at the time of the crime.

Updates Since the Trial

Since the trial, Maddie's parents have divorced, and Josh's father has died in a car accident. Josh, on the other hand, has been in the appeal process. In 2002, an appeals court upheld his original conviction. In late 2004, his mother, Melissa Phillips, began seeking a new trial. She believed that his age at the time of the murder should be taken into account in regards to his sentence. In the meantime, two of the officials who were involved in his sentencing have said they are having second thoughts.

In 2005, new hearing dates were set for Josh Phillips. Their goal is to at least have the charges reduced to second-degree murder, so that Josh might one day be eligible for parole. The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling in 2012 that sentencing juveniles to a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole is unconstitutional. However, in a new sentencing in 2017, a judge upheld Josh's life sentence. His 2020 appeal was also denied. Now in his 30s, Joshua Phillip is still in prison serving his life sentence today.

A photo taken of Joshua Phillips in prison in 2008, 10 years after the murder at 24 years of age.

A photo taken of Joshua Phillips in prison in 2008, 10 years after the murder at 24 years of age.

Other Articles

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

Comments

gigi on May 11, 2019:

i only came here because in school we are doing many articles on children murdering people and how we feel about it but the article we was reading (the one his mom wrote) did not tell us why he killed her now im filled in and need more storys on murder to satisfy my needs

Jim on September 12, 2018:

Josh is the typical psycho full of anger waiting for a victim weaker than him to cross his path tounleash his angry.He beat,stabbed,strangled a girl cause he was scared of his daddy? Lol no hes a psycho,I dont feel sorry for him. Life in prison is perfect he deserves to be locked in prison with violent crimes. I wont feel bad if hes beaten or violated there.

JD on August 01, 2018:

It is pretty n clear it doesn’t all add up n He is missing out details of what happened between ball hitting her n taking her to his room n why would she be screaming n crying ..... it doesn’t tske a genius to put two n two together 14 year old horny boy n 8 year vulnerable girl... trust me he raped her alright she screamed n cried or he was afraid she’d tell n so he killed her

Madalyn cook on February 12, 2018:

He should never have a second chance ! Maddie never will !

chrissy chafin on January 10, 2018:

I think he should be put in jail for a very long time but i dont think he should be on death row we all make mistakes but he should have not made a mistake on killing a inicent girl i believe humman can be better today then they were yesterday but i think he could have another chance i have read alot of your coments and i am aware that if you made a mistake you would want another chance and what most people are saying about he should rot and i am sure when he dose get out and relize what life is about he wont do anything like this agian but you are all wrong and most of your coments are stupid and just hateful THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK!!!!!!!!!!

Ghost Rightor from Planet Earth on December 02, 2017:

Josh Phillips...

I believe humans can be better today than they were yesterday. I believe some of the worst conditions produce some of the most courageous souls; adversity changes perception, what was impossible becomes closer than ever before. I also believe that those who would lock you up and throw away the key are missing the forest for the trees, you are living proof that a child is not a man, and a man is not a child. You've proven that incarcerated children shouldn't just be tossed aside and forgotten, they are human beings who need to be shown forgiveness and love. When they have truly repented, you know that you've saved a young life from utter darkness.

What you've learned is what makes this entire resentencing case so vital for children today, there are children sitting in prison right now for crimes they themselves cannot explain why they committed. Appeal Josh, this is not over. May your soul be saved alive. Selah.

Josh Phillips on November 30, 2017:

Thanks Samb

Samb on May 19, 2017:

It's so hard to think that I was the same age as that little girl when it happened. That could have just as easily been myself and I wouldn't be here today to be the person I am and see my parents proud of the decisions that I make. And I've cried over myour share of accidental hits to the end. Then he sleeps on her body for a week. The mattress was leaking. There's no way he could have just ignored it "like it never happened" blow it!! There is something seriously wrong with that kid. And the fact that he's had no psychological help is a perfect reason to keep him right where he is. For christ sake he's spent 20 years in prison with other criminals. How the hell is that supposed to fix a little boy?He shouldn't have been isolated and given bad role models, he should have been scared straight and gotten psychological help and constant supervision and not 20 yrs too late

Makayla on October 07, 2016:

Using this for a school report is that ok with the person who wrote this.

Guela so cookies on September 14, 2016:

THIS IS A VERY VERY VERY HARD CASE TO JUDGE WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN TO THIS YOUNG MAN!!!!!

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on July 10, 2016:

This is a very interesting and informative article, and I think it is very interesting that you have taken on the study of children who kill. I can't help but wonder about the parents and why they didn't bring witnesses or testify. Was it to honor the family of the victim? Or was it to hide family secrets? Brava for an article that truly leads people to think about the hard questions.

Martha on July 09, 2016:

I just watched the program about this for the second time on TV. What Josh said in an interview is what I also believe about why he killed the little girl. He said he was afraid of his father and that he was afraid his father would disown him. Nobody really knows what kind of relationship he had with his father, but I can imagine a 14-year-old being so terrified of a parent that you would do anything to protect yourself from either or both wrath or abandonment. Josh was afraid his father (or someone else who might tell his father) might hear the girl's screams. It began as an accident and after that, apparently, Josh's fear of his father was greater than his concern for his little friend. Too bad the psychologist didn't investigate the origin of that much fear in the boy. Clearly, there was nothing premeditated and nothing sexual in the act (regardless of whether he had been looking at child pornography on the internet). He no longer has to fear his father because his father died. I hope somebody gives this whole thing another go at it.

McKenna Meyers on February 09, 2016:

I'm glad our country is beginning to question these long sentences for juvenile offenders. However, Josh's crime and coverup seem to show an unusual amount of hate and rage and mental dysfunction. Could someone who did that get out and lead a life without reoffending? Does he have any insight into his actions? Very sad.

Besarien from South Florida on February 09, 2016:

I can't help wondering what the father did to that kid that he was afraid of getting the girl help after hitting her on accident. Not saying I buy this kid's story but that part seems relevant in accessing blame. Creepy story and personally I'm glad he is doing life. He doesn't need to see the outside of prison again ever. Who let's an eight year old girl play with a teenaged boy anyway?

Ghost Rightor from Planet Earth on January 08, 2016:

Such a sad story. Unfortunately, Josh had both his father and attorney Richard Nichols working against him, neither did their due diligence to present the pertinent information that Josh had been diagnosed by a neurosurgeon as suffering from 'frontal lobe brain lesions'. They've been proven to cause extreme panic during strife, and not only impair judgment and affect personality, but also stifle impulses to judge future consequences. The problem with this case is that Josh was mentally-ill and had a defective brain with the mental capacity of an 8yr old in a 14yr olds’ body; which would explain why he was even permitted to play with Maddie as both sets of parents must have known this on a subconscious level. The saddest part about this is that Maddie's death could have been prevented had Josh been properly diagnosed with a brain defect at a time (1998) when 'teen-mental illness' wasn't even considered an issue as it is today.

The fact that he is motioning for re-sentencing today is proof-positive that our society is finally catching up with the science on brain chemistry and how lesions, tumors and birth-defects can adversely affect human behavior. I only hope he can get the help he needs if he is to be re-introduced into society because there are millions of ticking-time bombs like Josh walking among us right now and not only do they not know it, neither do we. Forgiveness, rehabilitation and restoration seems the only answer for peace in a situation where a child commits a heinous act such as this and later in life repents and seeks to make amends; but if we don’t make progress on diagnosing mental-illness in early childhood development, this kind of tragedy will not only increase but will worsen in nature.

On a final note, my heart goes out to Maddie’s family, it is impossible for anyone to know their pain and nothing will bring her back, but as for Joshua’s fate, if he is sincere about seeking the help he needs, I believe he should be given another chance. After all, he was not an adult when he murdered her but he is one now and understands what he’s done was wrong.

"Another expert, a neurologist hired by Josh's attorney, found that Josh has "bilateral frontal lobe lesions," which can impair judgment as well as cause panic. But the judge didn't allow this evidence to be presented in court." http://murderpedia.org/male.P/p/phillips-joshua.ht...

derrick on April 03, 2015:

What a sad story

john mayer on January 29, 2015:

what a idiot

PMARTIN on October 13, 2014:

Video games yes but TV&Movies are effecting the minds of the young. Old days tv was set up to teach a moral lesson but also shield the young from adult themes. Now TV creaters show beheadings, assualts, shootings and mutilations and make it available to teens in animated form . This stuff desensatizes. Show creators (Seth McFarlane) say parents should stop the kids from watching. Some parents are too lazy but unfortunately there isn't much of an alternative. Violence on one network, sex on the other and parents being disrespected on the other. Watch cartoon channel after 6 and see.

Snakesmum on October 12, 2014:

Would the punishment from the father have been worse than what he's now going through? No way, as it would have only lasted a short time. He knew what he did was wrong, as he hid the body.

ann on September 21, 2014:

you cant kill someone becouse ur afraid ull get in trouble and i bet ow he wishes he just had his dads punishment instead he got alot worse hes punished either way

lexi on September 03, 2014:

today in class we read this... I'm 13 some people in my class are 14. I came home and looked this up, I couldn't believe what happened. I think he deserves life in prison. yes, he was 14. that's considered young, I guess. But this little girl was 8 years old, and a "very happy young girl", sources say. How do you at age 14 take another life. What is worse, going to jail for killing someone, or getting in a little bit of trouble with your dad for accidentally hitting her in the head while playing catch. Did he not realize that a little bump is better than taking a life. I would not be able to live with myself... How do you sleep on a bed for a week with the body of an 8 year old girl, under your bed. Its not just the smell of the body, but the thought of an innocent girl, dead, under your bed. I would hate myself! imagine if this was you or your daughter. that's all I have to say, put your self in the mother, father, or maddies shoes.... his age was the only thing that kept him from that death penalty.

dorie on August 27, 2014:

It is what it is. When an accidental death happens, you live in a prison the rest of your life! Regardless who sentences you. U know that all to well.

prodeath on August 08, 2014:

A mistake is forgetting to mail your phone bill. You might could even call running a stop sign a "mistake". You can even call a person running a red light, hit a car head on killing the occupant in the other car a "mistake". But.... Beating another living being with a baseball bat.... Then stab them... A "mistake"... Really??.... Because he was a 14 year old "child" and children's brains don't work like adults.... Really?? It's not "fair" that he be in prison for the rest of his life because he was "only 14". Really...?? This was a brutal murder, not an accident... Not a "mistake". He beat the child with a ball bat. Then stabbed her.... And placed her dead body under his mattress and slept with her dead body for a week. . and all because his "daddy was mean and strict". Really...? His age was considered.... Otherwise he would have received the death penalty... He shouldn't be in prison serving life without parole. He should be on death row, waiting to be strapped down to a gurney with a needle in his arm......

tavonna giaquinta on August 07, 2014:

Horrible

nochance on June 18, 2014:

I believe an eye for an eye! He killed someone and hid it. Much like Cain killing abel. He does not deserve a second chance. In my country. The minute he confessed he would have been taken to the back where people can see and then executed. Why let murders get another chance to kill. Did we forget about maddie?

Mathew Renner on June 10, 2014:

It is clear to me that the scum has supporters. I did not know so many people think an 8 year old girl deserves to be murdered.

Amy Murry from London on May 20, 2014:

It all starts with education at home. it hardly ever happens that children who gets good education are committing crime.

parents needed to be strict but same time not offensive to the child. it is hard being a parent, and i don't think that everyone can do it.

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on April 13, 2014:

We here in Pittsburgh are currently dealing with a child killing spree -a young man who had gone a stabbing rampage-injuring 21 students and a security guard-I as always have a hard time understanding how this could happen-but happen it does. I remember this particular story when it occurred. Well written and organized hub.

Elena on March 27, 2014:

I feel he should never be let out of jail but he shouldn't be put on death row because he should rot instead. Maddie lost so much I only hope she is having a good time in heaven. I first sawl this case when I was the same age and now I am older and desided to look up this case it still hurts me to know what he did and what she no longer can do witch is phisicaly be with the ones she loves.

Karyn Sparks on February 28, 2014:

Really sorry for your loss I don't think Maddie shouldn't have died.

trey on January 21, 2014:

i do feel bad for joshua but i think he should be released if a monster like eric smith gets parole and gets released on april 2014 i think joshua deserves the same

jaxpsych on December 12, 2013:

He should be in prison as long as his VICTIM is dead.Having years of experience with adults and children,as a therapist, who have murdered or committed other terrible act I see these as evil acts, I found extremely few were accidental and/or unitentional.Yes Virginia ther is true evil in the world....remember Ted Bundy? These enablers who blame others for someones muderous behaviors are happy to say poor thing and release the perpetrator from consequences.I would bet the farm most of you would have a differrent attitude if it was your child murdered.You would also be down on police,schools,parents etc if the "poor perptrator",did something at 20 y/o.Then it would be why didn't anyone see anthing or do something.Something has been done because this perp will at least never harm another child again.Oh yeah,his brain isn't mature yet.Most of the world has 10-14 year old soldiers carrying guns and killing ...what do we do with all them...forgiveness of all consequences?My country ,when I was 17,put me on a nuclear weapos firing team.Just a little part but still a part. Again,what about their victims or their 2 victim?Do we let the wolf attack the innocent a second time? Forgiveness and no consequences are not the same thing.They do need treatment and in prison it is a constitutional right to get medical/psychiatric TX but that doesn't change what they did and the liflong suffering they have caused others.Imagine being the parent of a murderd child and having to live with that memory especially knowing the perp did get Tx and became remorsefull and only a short prison term.

Anti-Parole on December 01, 2013:

I do not agree in giving him a new trial, reduce his sentence or to grant him any kind of parole. He is EXACTLY where he should be. If at the age of 14 he could commit such a HORRIFIC murder and leave this little girl's body to rot underneath the bed where HE was lying NUMEROUS hours having sweet and often wet dreams, is the act of a DIABOLICAL, CRUEL, DEVIOUS and CALCULATING serial killer in the making !!!

Eric Wayne Flynn from Providence, Rhode Island on November 21, 2013:

He rather kill someone than get into a little trouble from his parents. I once put a hole in my parents wall and hid it with a bookcase, I thought that was a low devious move at age 14 ( moving a book case)... I think Josh is just fine in prison, you never know what someone who is capable of beating a human body and stabbing it to death is capable of. He has a screw loose, it's sad but he is missing something in his brain that tells him to stop. He can take some strolls around the yard, at least that's more than Maddie can do.

heartbroken teen. on November 10, 2013:

he deserves nothing in life.

he took an innocent little girls life away, he knew what he was doing he could of stopped.

he took someones life, his deserves to be taken from him!

sweets on October 12, 2013:

He was a killer all along just trap in a childs body hell you will burn.....

Rachael prazeres on September 30, 2013:

Please help me in the fight for having joshua Phillips sentence reduced by signing my petition.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Please don't hesitate to copy and paste the link to other social media.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/236/653/253/help-jo...

ajaye on September 21, 2013:

what can you say but wow.. When i first began to read about children who murder i never would have thought of reading everyone attacking each other. When you read the about the child and trhe crime you have to look at the whole puzzle. The How , The Why, The Reason. Yes they are young when they done what the did but you cant use that as an excuse . We are taught wrong from right at early childhood. It has to also be looked into the[r family life not that that's ant reason to do what they did but to keep saying poor them its really getting old. Accidents are something that were not intended . But to kill them so that you don't get in trouble is not an excuse . When she first got hurt he should have told that's knowing right from wrong not ending her life hiding her for a week under your bed so you don't get in trouble . Everyone keeps looking at him being 14 yet she was 8 whos standing up her for her . The crime should always fit the sentence . What are we teaching if we put numbers on the crime . I feel anything over 10 should be treated as it is.

Chloe on July 25, 2013:

This is a very sad story feel terrible for both parties, you definitely do not think the same as a child of his age compared to an adult anybody who thinks differently is clearly nieve and to uneducated to comment on this terribly sad story, I don't believe anybody of that age should be given life without the possibility of parole it's just plain wrong, I think it's up to the psychiatrists to decide if he's safe to be aloud out as none of us know his mental state, I really do feel for this boy though

Fr on July 01, 2013:

Why does no one cite curtis cooper wjo did same thing and got 10 years

Tavonna Phillips Giaquinta on May 05, 2013:

Joshua is kind of my cousin.He is my second cousin. And I know what he was wrong but don't talk mean stuff about him. Please.

Maria Palacio on March 04, 2013:

I don't support the death penalty and people should rot in prison for the rest of their lives. Death penalty is the easiest way out, if you ask me. What Josh did was despicable and heartbreaking, killing an innocent 8 year old child. No where in the news report did it say Maddie was sexually assaulted so therefore that is out of the question. I do agree with some posts, that Maddie should have been looked out after her parents, especially an 8 year old girl alone with a 14 year old. I also believe in second chances, he was only 14 years old and he should have been tried as a juvenile, not as an adult and he should be given a second chance. You can't fake the remorse he has shown in his videos and I think as long as they let him out, put him on probation for 10 years. Don't get me wrong, what he did was wrong but at the age of 14 when he has no history of mental illness or violence, I would have tried him as a juvenile.

Jessi on October 07, 2012:

Does the little girls age get taken into consideration? I mean does she get an appeal or a 2nd chance at life?

BURN IN HELL YOU BASTARD!

jacksonville on July 22, 2012:

for pamela you make me sick!! maybe she shouldn't have been with a 14 y/o boy but he took her inside the home because he hurt her with the ball. you're telling me you've never let your children play at another childs home? or have done so yourself as a kid.hes a sick person plain and simple you're just as sick for blaming the little girls parents.people like you are why people like him get away with this stuff.

Abi on July 20, 2012:

You know. Sometimes, I feel like killing people who say he's a monster. Piss off. You were never in he's shoes, so, how bout try picking on a murderer who killed many people, raped people, or a pedophile who is still out there cause they got let out on parole. And yet, your wasting your time picking on a young boy that made a mistake that sadly turned into a brutal crime. Maddie won't get a second chance, and now nor will josh. I mean let's face It, it won't bring maddie back locking josh up for the rest of he's life. They cant actually think he'll kill again? yet, this story is similar to the Lionel Tate case, and also the King brothers who were released after committing murder. I'm 14 years old, and hurting one of your friends by accident, and dreading having to tell someone and getting a good wallop scares the shit outta you! But, he had it worse. Just cause you read the news, don't believe it. Just cause Joshua's crime may of seemed brutal, doesn't mean he's heartless and a monster. Murderers must be punished, but life for a kid? He's not an adult, he hasn't got a job has he? He doesn't own he's own house? FREE JOSH! Suck it up if you don't agree with me!

Ex Step Father of Josh on July 07, 2012:

I married Melissa Phillips in 2006. BIG mistake. I got to know this evil man and regret it terribly. He's unremirseful and evil. His mother is a media seeking whore that will say and do anything to get attention. Maddie doesn't get a second chance, so why would this convicted child murderer? The entire family is mentally challenged to say the least. If people feel sorry, as I did, sadly at one point in my life, then re-evaluation of the repugnant facts are necessary. I met the monster, many times and he never once showed any remorse, only feeling sorry for himself in prison! Bastard. I'm so glad I got divorced from that foul mother and moved on.

jesse on July 03, 2012:

@antonia monacelli: i just read your last comment! it seems we think alike concerning juveniles' brain development, etc! lol

but i wouldn't have stated all that for your readers to have to read a 2nd time if i'd read through all the comments before posting!

also, just to clarify: i do not advocate no punishment for children who kill. i advocate a maximum punishment of life with parole to give them hope and something to live for.

this doesn't seem unreasonable considering the fact that some ADULTS who kill get probation, or "time served," or maybe just 20 years - even for 1st degree murder. texas allows juries wide discretion in sentencing on some murder charges, allowing just probation.

jesse on July 03, 2012:

joshua's case doesn't make sense because it was a CHILD's reasoning, not an adult's. studies have shown that our brain's ability to reason does not complete develop until we are in our early 20's. children should not be held to the same standards as adults.

it's funny how when they are missing, they are children all the way up to age 19 & sometimes beyond. but let them make a mistake or two & they are throwaway people & treated as adults, supposedly with capacities that they do not even have.

will joshua's sentence be affected by the recent supreme court ruling? was it a mandatory sentence or not? i don't think ANY juveniles should be sentenced to LWOP. if their crimes are bad enough, they can be denied parole.

@michael: so you met joshua's father at a party "one time" & you know the inner workings of his character, huh? riiiiight.

have you heard of the term "putting on airs?" or ever met a person who was charming around other people but a raging, screaming terror at home?

i have. my own father. he was extremely abusive, yet so charming at his society meetings & ah ha ha ha'ed along with everyone. it made me sick to my stomach to see him "act," knowing the real person he was.

he even said in so many words once that he had "worked hard to make those people like me" when referring to my brother's wife & her family. in other words, he was never himself around them.

if you meet a person once, or even multiple times... don't assume you "know" that person.

deedee on May 23, 2012:

He was 14yrs old. My nephew is barely gna turn 6 && knows better than to harm someone younger than him. By that age 14 they should know better right from wrong. && if they don't then they might be mentally ill...buut even most mentally challenged childern know right from wrong.

Rhine on May 06, 2012:

OMG. I really do hope that Josh might be free one day. I do think he has paid his innocently wrong doing. I'm praying for him and also Maddie's soul. God bless to them.

Latty on April 23, 2012:

Killing is wrong regardless of the age or reason. It's just wrong. And murderers must be punished.

Antonia Monacelli (author) from Ontario, Canada on April 21, 2012:

@Tim

From your comment, I get the feeling there is probably no real reason for me to reply, but I will.

First of all, you are lumping in every single case of "child murderers", and saying that all of these children should just be given the death penalty. That is absolutely ludicrous; the only thing that each of these cases has in common is the age of the offenders. Secondly, you, like many other people, seem to want to forget that these are CHILDREN. They are not adults, their brains are not fully developed, and they do not have the same capacity or understanding of their actions that adults do. Secondly, as children, they were not just "born evil", most of them are products of the environment they were raised in, which is something that needs to be considered.

The fact is that people sometimes get convicted for things that they didn't do. You can't "take back" the death penalty. Even if the death penalty would rid the world of some horrible monsters, it's not worth it if there is even one innocent person who is put to death. The truth of the matter is that it does not deter crime at all. Personally, I think the death penalty lets perpetrators off too easily; death is an easy way out. Having to live the rest of your life in prison is not. That being said, I will never EVER be in favour of the death penalty for children. That is absolutely ridiculous, and completely ignoring that fact that children are not adults; how is it fair to hold accountable a child, without a fully developed brain, to the same standard as an adult?

Tim on April 20, 2012:

Isn't it amazing all the people that Comment on all these child murders... Oh poor guy... Poor poor baby scared of daddy... What of all the innocents who die at their hands and all the families who suffer the loss .. THE DEATH PENALTY IS OK... It banishes them to the next world where they don't get to murder anyone else or earn a law degree in prison or workout ... The blood of the victims of these horrid crimes cries out for justice...... They need to be banished to the next world... Nothing personal ...they simply need to be extinct... And if it deters-- great-- and if it doesn't --thats irrelevant.. U don't get to take in air once u stop another from taking in air in these cases if vicious demonic murder... Stop all the excusing... Wake up

Michael on April 20, 2012:

His Mother thinks his age should have been taken into account? IT WAS WHEN HE DIDN'T GET THE CHAIR.

I'm a Jacksonville native and watched all this unfold.. even met his Dad once at a company Christmas party, he hardly struck me as the "Monster" type, but that kid sure does considering what he did.

Aww he's remorseful? well that just makes it all better huh?

Beating someone with a baseball bat, strangling them with a phone cord then stabbing them 11 times and stuffing the body under your bed is hardly "accidental" poor poor Josh. hope he gets the same in prison.

Jessica on April 19, 2012:

Creepy that someone could sleep in a bed that a dead body was under for that long?? Even one day, for that matter! I don't think we should blame the parents at all. They had nothing to do with It. He was "afraid" of his father? Well, yeah, he knew that after killing her for sure with a knife after she "accidently" got hit with a baseball he was up shit's creek. Without a boat! I personally think It was an excuse. He wanted to kill the little girl. Because he's a sick person. He's right where he belongs, and I hope the girl haunts him in prison every chance she gets!

Anna on April 09, 2012:

I agree with Kenwu, and some of you, but it was a child even if he has done is very regrettable and horrible. You can imagine what the atmosphere for killing Josh lived in fear of having trouble with his own father. The culprit here is the father who has traumatized his family and made ??his son a monster. I think the system is mistaken, these children need psychological help, social, love, not a life sentence? I do not think this is the ideal. josh why that has never had a problem of violence must remain in prison for life so much else of his dangerous outside. Watch lionel tate case that took three years for killing a little girl. Josh was a child who should be protecting the government. It must come out, it has enough pay. Imagine if it was your son, brother or a family member 14 years of which must remain in prison for life. think not only Maddie, but the child was Joshua's.

Kristin on March 18, 2012:

Why would a 14 year-old-boy be "playing" with an 8 year-old-girl? Fishy from the get-go.

fishy story on February 01, 2012:

I'm thinking he must've been doing something sexual with her, and killed her when she said she'd tell.

kyra ambrose on January 22, 2012:

i feel real sorry for this girl but was her parents fault because she was only young and he was like 14 they should have known better

Jailsux on January 04, 2012:

20 years tops. There are worse people who have done worse things AS ADULTS serving far less time. Life w/o at 14 ??? Outrageous. I do feel for the little girls family but shes dead and as unfortunate as that is i see sense in ending two lives

Pamela on December 28, 2011:

I don't blame him one bit,why..Because she shouldn't have been over at his house i blame her parents because they shoulda been watchin her..Now he's spening the rest of his life for somethin her parents should be blamed for.

ruffridyer from Dayton, ohio on June 28, 2011:

This is like when a man accidently runs someone over while drunk and flees the scene.

Don't know if this is what happened.

KenWu from Malaysia on May 17, 2011:

Joshua killed the little girl because he scared of being punished by his dad?

That was hard to accept but the reality indeed what it is. So who should be blamed here? The father, family or Joshua himself?

One thing for sure, Joshua would have undergone a dramatic change in term of his psychology behavior and thinking. I believe he regretted what he had done and which can't be undone. That's the saddest part of all.

Antonia Monacelli (author) from Ontario, Canada on December 06, 2010:

Thanks for your comment, you're right, his story really doesn't make much sense. He was young, and he did something awful, but I do genuinely see remorse in him when I watch the videos. I don't think it is a ploy. I don't think that means he should be let out of prison, but I do think they should have been providing him with some sort of psychiatric counseling, and they never have. I would feel far better knowing that any child who committed such a violent act was getting some sort of help, even if they are likely to remain in prison for their lives. We do have to take age into some sort of consideration when tragedies like this occur.

garynew from Dallas, TX and Sampran, Thailand on December 06, 2010:

his story makes little sense, then again, teens often do things that make little sense, extremely tragic case on both sides.