The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff
The Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr.
Children who make terrible mistakes can often be redeemed. That was the theme of The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff, the Redemption of Herbert Niccolls, Jr., which was published in 2013 and has resulted in me lecturing on the topic of “Crime, Kids and Compassion” worldwide.
Whether it was Victorian England or the Depression Era Northwest, modern India, Colombia, New York or Los Angeles children can act on impulse, sometimes with horrific results. There are numerous studies that discuss neurological development not being complete until a child is in his mid 20s. Immaturity and impulsiveness are why we have delayed young people’s right to vote, drink or drive. But commit a crime and for hundreds of years in a variety of very diverse cultures age failed to matter. It also fails to matter in sending the young to war. The perfect place to explore some of these troubling questions is through art. I believe that well told stories -- oral, written or visual – can teach us and build bridges that transcend our differences.
The story of Herbert Niccolls, Jr. who at 12 accidentally murdered the sheriff of Asotin County, Washington, and was sentenced to an adult prison is now a feature-film script making its mark in a variety of contests and looking for the right producer and a stellar child actor. My my pick is Vancouver, Canada’s, Jason Tremblay, who was outstanding in Room.
The script is the result of about three years of writing and working with top script-mentor and Emmy Award-winner John Jacobsen. I kept up the weekly Skype sessions no matter where in the world I was living at the time. I might be having bandeja paisa for lunch in Colombia or shopska salad in Bulgaria, but when it was time to Skype I was transported back to the Depression to a small town where young Herbert Niccolls was always hungry.
The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff was a finalist in the nonfiction division in history for the Washington State Book Awards, 2014.
Logline: In 1931, a 60-pound 12-year-old boy is sentenced to life in prison for murder. In this true story based on a book, the boy must learn how to navigate deadly politics amidst dangerous men and decide if becoming a savage is the way to become a man.
Accepted into the Beverly Hills Film Festival 2017
Los Angeles Film and Script Festival Best Drama
2017 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship quarter finalist
Spotlight Screenplay Competition top 10 finalists
And some other competitions.