Chastinea Reeves

Gary police Lt. Dawn Westerfield, public information officer for the department, speaks to the media about missing teenager Chastinea Reeves, 15, of Gary, at the Gary Police Department.

CROWN POINT — Attorneys debated Tuesday morning whether a 15-year-old Gary girl accused of murder in her mother's stabbing death should be tried as an adult.

Chastinea Reeves earned good grades at Gary Lighthouse Charter School, where she participated in track and cheerleading, according to juvenile probation officer Michelle Hornick.

She told the probational officer she smoked marijuana and would occasionally argue with her mother, but they got along well. She had no prior contacts with police and minor disciplinary issues at school, according to Hornick.

Reeves was initially the subject of a intense police search after her mother, Jamie M. Garnett, was found dead during the early morning Feb. 13 at her home in the 4400 block of West 23rd Place in Gary.

The Gary Police Department issued an Amber Alert for the girl, who was located the next afternoon in Gary.

She was charged later that week in juvenile court with murder on allegations she stabbed Garnett, 34, to death. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office has filed a motion requesting the juvenile court waive its jurisdiction.

Dr. Ronald Ruff, a court-appointed psychologist, said at Tuesday's court hearing he believed Reeves suffered from severe depression with psychotic features.

He told the court Reeves said she heard voices and saw hallucinations before going to bed. The girl scored in the 99th percentile on a psychological test for depression, and she had previously attempted suicide with medication.

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Deputy prosecuting attorney Keith Anderson asked whether that depression could be a result of her incarceration at the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center.

The psychologist said he believed the depression predated her incarceration.

Ruff recommended Reeves remain in the juvenile justice system, where she could receive treatment and counseling.

Rosemary Cruz, the grandmother of Reeves, said she wanted Reeves to remain in the juvenile justice system.

“I think Chastinea needs help,” she said, crying.

Anderson said Reeves should be tried in an adult court because she posed a threat to the community.

Defense attorney Geoffrey Giorgi urged Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr. to listen to the psychologist's recommendation.

Stefaniak said he would make a decision by the week's end.

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Lake County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Steve covers Lake County courts and social justice issues for The Times. The UW-Milwaukee graduate joined The Times in 2016 after reporting on criminal justice in New Mexico and Wisconsin.