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"You Don't Lock Up Toddlers." Autism, Violence, Incarceration?

Magic_8ball From PJStar Online.

You may recall that Sky Walker, who was found unable to stand trial in the beating death of his mother, was sent to a developmental facility in Ohio. Let's hope that law enforcement and our legal system looks at this case as a bellweather for future planning.  I met a Mom this week, whose son had just had a frightening rage. She was driven to tears as she told me that she's worried (to death, pardon the phrase) about how to help him, help manage him and what his future holds. Let's hope that 22 year Joey Brooks does not have to remain in jail. KS

As our friend Tanner's Dad says on Twitter every day, "Feel Autism Yet?"

By Andy Krevetz

Peoria,IL: The attorney for a developmentally disabled man who was indicted Tuesday for allegedly beating to death a housemate last week said his client shouldn't be in jail.

"He doesn't have the mental capacity to have a criminal intent," said attorney Timothy Newlin of Joey R. Brooks, 22, who was indicted on one count of first-degree murder for the death of John Vogel. He will next appear in court Thursday to be arraigned on the charge. Until then, he remains in custody at the Peoria County Jail on $500,000 bond.

And that's what has Newlin and Brooks' parents upset. They believe this case is different than others. Newlin said his client has an IQ of 12, and the mental age of a 21/2-year-old. He's diagnosed with profound mental retardation and autism, the attorney said, reading from a 2009 report.

"He's essentially a toddler; you don't lock up toddlers," he said.

Rather, the parents, who live in Peoria County, said they believe their son should be moved.

"He should be at the Jacksonville Developmental Center with supervision and not locked up, and I agree with them completely," Newlin said.

Brooks was arrested Friday afternoon after sheriff's deputies responded to 1042 N. Emily Place, a duplex that is run by Trinity Services and houses several developmentally disabled people. There they found Vogel lying on the ground with head injuries and Brooks in another room, curled up in the fetal position.

Police believe Brooks repeatedly hit Vogel in the head after an argument with another person. A mental fitness test has been ordered, and Newlin said he doesn't believe the report is finished yet.

Brooks moved there about a year ago after spending nine years at the Hope School Learning Center in Springfield. Newlin said there is no evidence that Brooks had any problems while at that school. He did say the 22-year-old had no criminal history.

Newlin said he tried to communicate with Brooks on Sunday during a jailhouse visit and got the sense that he "did not understand" what was happening.

The attorney said his client is nonverbal and used a 20-pound Communication Assistance Device while at Trinity house. The device apparently has a keypadlike interface with pictures that would allow Brooks to convey what he wants.

Andy Kravetz can be reached at 686-3283 or


Angela Newland

How alone,affraid and sad must this poor boy be? what chance does he have of helping himself, he needs help and care. which should have been in place to prevent this from ever was not, how is that his fault? should he pay such a terrible price? He doesnt even understand what is happening. its so wrong and so very cruel to do this. get him out fast for god sake. its frightening that the system show such ignorance in letting this happen an absalute outrage.

Momtogo1234 - Gina Vokoun (PHX)

Yet another wrongful imprisonment! Makes me want to puke. Kim, not sure I told you, my 18 year old Aspie was wrongfully imprisoned in January. He's still facing JAIL TIME if convicted. Some of our kids, even VERY HIGH FUNCTIONING, find themselves not able to make quick enough decisions for first responders. ***SIGH***


Where do they go when we're gone and who will take care of them?
Get this boy out of jail!


Mary-- I was thinking the same thing. Beyond tragic-- it never had to happen to begin with. In some alternate universe, this kid just graduated from Northwestern and is applying to grad schools.


Please do not assume that because someone is in an institution that they are heavily medicated. My son has been in an institutional type setting since he was about the same age as Joey. The only prescribed med my son is on is Depakote for seizures and we constantly monitor it and keep him on the least amount needed. The institutions are under constant pressure to downsize and move clients into assisted living type situations. My son is not ready for that at this point or in the forseeable future. He needs constant supervision to not injure himself and when he is frustrated or angry to not injure those around him. Perhaps that is what happened with this young man. He was put into a situation he could not handle and there was not enough supervision. So sad.


Very sad. If he spent 9 years at Hope and 1 year at this place, he's been "institionalized" since age 12. I'm sure his list of meds is down to the floor.

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