'Court manslaughter sentence too lenient'
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
8-year term for 16-year-old who stabbed Philip Geller not enough to deter growing teenage knife crime trend, state argues.
The State Attorney’s Office filed a Supreme Court appeal on Thursday against
what it argues is a too-lenient sentence issued to the 16-year-old boy convicted
of killing fellow teen Philip Geller in Beersheba.
The defendant, who
cannot be named because he is a minor, was sentenced to eight years in prison by
the Beersheba District Juvenile Court earlier this year, after agreeing to plead
guilty to manslaughter charges in January.
As the defendant is a minor,
the plea bargain does not include any deal regarding punishment. Instead, that
was determined by the court in light of a probation service report.
defendant was arrested after fatally stabbing Geller, 15, with a 20-centimeter
kitchen knife during a fight on June 3 last year.
The Beersheba police
confirmed that the teenagers had been drinking alcohol, which they said played a
role in the incident.
The Southern District Attorney’s Office originally
considered pressing murder charges against the 16-year-old, but filed a
manslaughter charge after deciding that there was no unequivocal evidence that
Geller’s killing was premeditated, a prerequisite determination for a murder
In addition to the eight-year prison term, the district court
also handed down a two-year probation regarding manslaughter or another violent
felony, and a 10-month probation regarding violent misdemeanors including
possession of a knife. The defendant was also ordered to pay Geller’s
family NIS 40,000.
In the appeal, state prosecutors argued that the
penalty the court imposed on the killer reflects neither the severity of the
crimes for which he was convicted nor the value of human life.
punishment also does not deter the defendant, and other minors, from using
knives to resolve disputes, the state argued.
In the Geller case, the
prosecution contended, the defendant obtained a knife in advance of the
encounter and used it “in the most deliberate and violent way, which was
expressed, among other things, by thrusting [the knife] deep into his victim’s
The prosecution asked the Supreme Court to impose a far harsher
sentence, and added that the district court had erred in giving so much weight
to the defendant’s age, particularly in the light of worsening youth violence
According to the indictment, Geller was at a party at the
defendant’s home when the two started a fist fight. The fight broke up and the
defendant went home, but Geller and several other youths soon returned to the
yard outside the defendant’s house carrying a large rock.
threatened to stab Geller with a knife if he did not move from the yard, the
indictment charged. Geller told the defendant to put the knife down “if he were
a man,” put down the rock he carried and asked to continue fighting without
However, some moments later, Geller threw the rock at the
defendant’s head, causing injury, according to the indictment. The defendant
then stabbed Geller in the groin with such force that the knife’s handle broke
The defendant fled, while Geller was rushed to the Soroka University
Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery and died.