Defense attorneys for the Chicago police officer charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald are asking for access to the 17-year-old's juvenile records, which detail his history as a state ward, the Chicago Tribune reports.
According to the report, the motion has caused outrage among child-welfare advocates, although legal experts say the move is a sound one, since the defense has a duty to pursue all possible evidence to prepare for trial, the Tribune notes.
Cook County, Ill., Judge Patricia Martin, the presiding judge of the juvenile court's child-protection division, will make the call on the request by lawyers for Police Officer Jason Van Dyke, the Tribune reports.
Documents obtained by the Tribune detail Laquan's difficult childhood that led to his becoming a second-generation ward of the state at a young age. Authorities had to take him into protective custody twice over allegations of abuse and neglect.
Laquan had learning disabilities and was diagnosed with complex behavioral and mental-health problems, the Tribune notes. By age 13, he had had three psychiatric hospitalizations, as well as multiple school suspensions, expulsions, truancies and drug-related arrests.
Van Dyke's attorneys would not comment on why they are seeking Laquan's juvenile records, telling the Tribune that the judge heading the criminal case has imposed a "gag order," which prohibits them from talking about the case publicly.
Regardless, as the Tribune points out, at the time of the shooting, Van Dyke did not know anything about Laquan before opening fire on the teen.
Read more at the Chicago Tribune.