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A bullied boy has died after an alleged beating by classmates at his school.
Bailey O'Neill was taken off life support Sunday, after turning 12 years old on Saturday. O'Neill was a sixth grader who attended an elementary school outside Philadelphia.
That's where two bullies allegedly accosted O'Neill and punched him in the face in a schoolyard beating January 10, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer. O'Neill suffered seizures and was placed in a medically induced coma.
Only one of the two bullies is alleged to have punched O'Neill. The punch was so severe that it broke the boy's nose and caused a concussion, reports the Inquirer.
Police are still investigating the schoolyard punch, and no criminal charges have been filed as of yet. The two students involved in the "jumping" were suspended by the school, though only for only two days, according to Philadelphia's WCAU-TV.
Given O'Neill's death, it's possible that the individuals responsible for bullying and beating O'Neill could face serious charges. Depending on what the police investigation uncovers, the charges could potentially include murder.
In Pennsylvania, a defendant can be charged with murder regardless of age. So if that happens, the children involved in the incident would not be able to use their age as a defense.
While it is rare for minors to be charged with such crimes, even younger children have been charged with murder in Pennsylvania. This includes an 11-year-old who was accused of shooting and killing his father's pregnant girlfriend, as CNN reported in 2010.
However, to prove murder, prosecutors will have to show that O'Neill's bullies intended to kill O'Neill, which may be difficult to prove in a schoolyard bullying case. If no intent can be shown, the alleged bullies may be able to avoid criminal charges altogether, as children under 15 typically cannot be charged with manslaughter in the state.
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