Two East Jerusalem teens who had been charged with killing an American-born 60-year-old man, Lance Wolf, on a Jerusalem square in 2010 when one of them hit him with a wooden stick have been convicted of negligent homicide. Jerusalem District Court Judge Raphael Carmel rejected the prosecution's contention, however, that the defendants were guilty of the more serious charge of manslaughter.
The accused, who were 13 and 15 at the time, got into a confrontation with Wolf after he refused to give them a cigarette and cursed them. The judge found that one of the defendants struck Wolf in the head with the stick, but also found that the boy was not guilty of homicide because he was not aware of the consequences of his actions.
Wolf suffered a brain hemorrhage and died a short time later. He had come to Israel after wandering from place to place for a considerable time. He was homeless for a period here and was not in contact with his family in the United States. For the last year and a half of his life, he lived as a guest in the home of a Palestinian family in the Mount of Olives area of Jerusalem.
The evidence in the case, which included footage from closed circuit security cameras, showed that after Wolf swore at the defendants, they moved away from him, but returned. One of them, who has been identified as Defendant 1, was carrying the stick. He claimed he swung it in self-defense after Wolf approached in a threatening manner. The defendants also claimed to be under the influence of alcohol at the time.
The judge rejected most of their account, stating: "[Wolf] collapsed on the spot and Defendant 1 understood the scope of the horror, and even if he didn't understand that [Wolf] had died, he realized that something horrible had happened and fled with his friend."
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