NASHVILLE — Prosecutors want to try five Nashville juveniles, ages 12 to 16, as adults in connection with the robbery and fatal shooting Thursday of a 24-year-old musician who was standing in his driveway.
Three girls — ages 12, 14 and 15 — and two boys — ages 13 and 16 — each face criminal homicide charges in the death of Kyle Yorlets. The 12-year-old’s attorney argued her case did not belong in adult court, pointing out that the girl cooperated with police after her arrest.
Assistant District Attorney Stacy Miller disagreed during a hearing in juvenile court Friday.
“She didn’t run from there, and she didn’t call the police,” Miller said. “She’s as guilty as they are.”.
Prosecuting preteens in adult court is exceedingly rare in Nashville, although Tennessee has no age limit for transferring children to adult court on murder charges. Terrence McLaurine was 12 in 1997 when he became the youngest person in Nashville ever prosecuted for murder in adult court. He pleaded guilty.
Currently there are 185 inmates in Tennessee prisons serving life sentences for crimes committed when they were teens. Seven were 14 at time of their crimes.
Police said Friday the shooting appeared to be random. Investigators believe the group of young people had been hanging out in the alley behind Yorlets’ home when they spotted him and approached with a gun.
“He’s an absolute, absolute innocent victim,” police spokesman Don Aaron said at the North Nashville Precinct on Friday morning.
Testifying Friday in juvenile court, Detective Melody Saxon said the 12-year-old girl told police that at least three of the young people approached Yorlets. The five juveniles fled the scene and were arrested hours later at the West Nashville Walmart.
Yorlets, originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduated from Belmont University in May 2017 and was a member of the Nashville-based band Carverton.
Yorlets’ band released a statement Friday morning saying they were “in a state of shock.”.
“We are heartbroken,” the statement read. “Our condolences for his family and loved ones and all the lives that he touched. We will never forget Kyle, and though he is gone too soon his legacy is here to stay. We thank you for your support and will talk to you soon.”.
Snapchat posts led Nashville police to suspects
Police said the suspects in the case all knew one another but have not said how.
“None of the five individuals are a stranger to the system or this police department,” Aaron said.
The department’s involvement in the case started Thursday morning with the search for the 12-year-old girl, who had run away from home, Aaron said. As the search progressed, he said, police discovered Snapchat posts showing the girl in a car “with other young people with guns.”.
Investigators believe the group of young people wound up in a stolen Chevrolet Colorado pickup taken from Oak Grove, Kentucky, in the alley behind Yorlets’ home when they saw him outside.
The minors approached Yorlets and took his wallet, according to police. Investigators believe someone shot Yorlets after he refused to give up the keys to his vehicle.
After the shooting, Aaron said, Yorlets made it back inside his home where he was found by one of his housemates about an hour later. He was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Witnesses told police they saw “several young persons after the homicide run to a pickup truck,” Aaron said.
“As we began looking at the descriptions provided by witnesses on Torbett Street it became clear that the persons with the 12-year-old were likely the same ones in the pickup truck,” Aaron said.
Police have not said who shot Yorlets.
Police said the minors fled, but they ditched the stolen pickup on Timberland Drive in the Hermitage Precinct, where it was recovered. Officers located the teens at the West Nashville Walmart.
They also found a loaded 9 mm pistol, which had been reported stolen, with one of them. Police found a second loaded and stolen pistol inside the Walmart.
Detectives believe the young people drove another stolen car, a Hyundai Santa Fe from Brentwood, to the Walmart.
Because of the severity of the charges against them, Tennessee law allowed police to identify the three suspects who are over the age of 13. The Tennessean is not identifying the juveniles because of their young age.
Follow Natalie Neysa Alund and Adam Tamburin on Twitter: @nataliealund and @tamburintweets.