Judge: Teen who saw dad killed ‘experienced things in life no one should’

Jacob Caldwell, the teen who went missing after witnessing his father’s August 2017 shooting death, is headed to a secure treatment facility where he will receive counseling.

The 15-year-old admitted Tuesday in Greene County Juvenile Court to an unruly charge.

Jacob had been missing for a year — after the murder of his father, 35-year-old Robert Caldwell — until a tip led authorities to him in late August. He had been living in the basement of a Miami Twp. home where other adults reside.

RELATED: Caldwell’s wife sued federal defendants, sheriff for husband’s death

Judge Adolfo Tornichio ruled Tuesday that Caldwell be kept in a locked-down treatment facility. Prior to the hearing, the attorneys involved in the case met with Tornichio in judge’s chambers, and all parties agreed on a comprehensive plan for Jacob’s well-being.

Before the ruling, Jacob politely answered several questions from Tornichio, who wanted to make sure he understood what was happening, what his options were and that he was satisfied with counsel from his attorney, Jennifer Marietta.

“You have experienced things in life that no one, no matter how old they are, should experience,” Tornichio told Jacob. “The trauma that you witnessed first hand, the fact that you’ve been gone from the community for a very long time. A lot of people were worried about you and your safety, given what has happened to your family.”

RELATED: Jacob Caldwell had history of running away, records show 

Before Tornichio’s ruling, Marietta and other attorneys were given the opportunity to address the court about Jacob.

“He has had quite an interesting last year and a half,” Marietta said. “He is a very kind, intelligent and respectful young man. I believe he has a bright future. It has been an absolute pleasure working with him on this case.”

After the hearing, attorney Lori Cicero, who represents Jacob’s legal guardian and paternal grandmother Sally DeThomas, told this news organization that the judge’s decision is the best outcome.

“This has been a very emotional process for all of those involved, especially for Sally,” Cicero said. “It is just a very difficult experience for her to see that Jacob’s overall progress in life since his father’s murder has been stifled by the circumstances in which he found himself in. But today is a good day for the family and for Jacob. Today will be the first day of his journey toward his recovery to achieve some stability, consistency, and to be able to heal … that is the most important part of all of this.”

Jacob, who had prior runaway incidents, is a potential witness in the federal case against the people who are charged in his father’s murder.

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Six people have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Robert Caldwell’s death, including Jacob’s mother and Robert’s ex-wife, Tawnney Caldwell, and her boyfriend Sterling Roberts.

Tawnney Caldwell and Roberts are charged with murder. Their trial and that of three others in the case is scheduled to begin Nov. 5.

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