In the words of Judge Daniel Leddy:
In any other legal context, he would have been
called "Christopher", or "Chris," or "the child" or the "the boy."
However, when the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed his conviction and 30 year jail term in an adult prison, its lengthy opinion referred to him only as "Pittman," his last name, just as it would have if, on that tragic day six years ago, he had been a full-fledged adult instead of a psychiatrically-impaired 12- year-old-child.
Christopher Pittman came to live with his beloved paternal grandparents after his chaotic home life in Florida drove him to attempt suicide, an act that led to his commitment to a psychiatric facility. Upon his release, a South Carolina physician switched his medication to Zoloft, an antidepressant not recommended for use by children.
According to two highly qualified expert witnesses who testified at his trial, Christopher was "involuntarily intoxicated" on Zoloft and exhibiting psychotic features when he shot his grandparents to death in their bed on Nov. 28, 2001.
Christopher was taken into custody by Deputy Lucinda McKellar who, after informing him of his Miranda rights, induced the isolated little boy to purportedly waive his constitutional rights and confess to the killings. Incredibly, there was no recording made of the interrogation.
The ensuing murder charges against Christopher could have been heard in Family Court, a salutary, confidential forum whose focus would have been on providing him with the rehabilitative services he desperately needed.
Unfortunately, but all too typically these days, yahoo prosecutors were utterly indifferent to the child's plight.
So they vigorously objected to the Family Court's adjudicating the case just as they vehemently opposed a defense request that reasonable bail be set. Lacking the judicial courage required in this terrible time for America's kids, the court sided with prosecutors on both matters.
Christopher thus remained in custody for well over three years before being brought to trial, an unconscionable delay.
After the jury convicted him -- a result that should have surprised nobody --Christopher's aunt, Melinda Pittman Rector, whose parents were the deceased victims, told the presiding judge that her mother and father would have been pleading on Christopher's behalf because "That was not my nephew that night. He was a good kid."
Under South Carolina law, however, the mandatory minimum sentence was 30 years in jail and that was the sentence meted out by the court for the psychiatrically induced, totally-out-of-character behavior of an emotionally disturbed 12-year-old child.