Teen could face 'long' prison term

August 21, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jason Gray's face turned ashen as he was sentenced Wednesday by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes to a rehabilitation program with a promise of a lengthy prison sentence if he does not complete it successfully.

"Take advantage of this chance now, because I'll be honest with you, this is the last chance you get," Wilkes said. "If you do not do well at the Anthony Center, you're going to look at a long, long prison sentence."

Gray, 17, agreed Wednesday to be tried as an adult and pleaded guilty to 27 counts of burglary, larceny and conspiracy. He will spend six months to two years at the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders in Neola, W.Va.


Gray's arrest on July 23 sparked the formation of a citizens' group whose members have said they want to change the state's juvenile justice system. Gray had remained free for about three days after he was arrested by a sheriff's deputy because there was not enough room for him at the Eastern Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

From May through July, Gray stole more than $30,000 worth of property from Jefferson County residents, including guns, money, jewelry and compact disc players. Most of the items were recovered, including more than $10,000 worth of jewelry found in the glove compartment of his car.

"To make it short, I stole for money," Gray told the judge.

If he does not successfully complete the program, he will be sent back to Jefferson County for resentencing.

Each of the 10 burglary counts carries a one- to 15-year sentence. Wilkes said he could make the sentences consecutive so that each one would have to be served separately.

Gray also pleaded guilty to five counts of grand larceny, five counts of petit larceny and seven counts of conspiracy. Each count of grand larceny carries a one- to 10-year prison sentence, the conspiracy counts carry a one- to five-year sentence and the petit larceny charges carry up to one year in jail.

Wilkes did not say how long he would sentence Gray to prison if he does not complete the rehabilitation, but he said Gray would not be seen for a "long time."

Gray was ordered held at the Eastern Regional Juvenile Detention Center until a bed becomes available for him at the Anthony Center for Youthful Offenders.

Jefferson County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Bernice Weinstein said Gray should be held at the adult detention center since he was waived as a juvenile, but state law requires him to be held at a juvenile facility because of his age.

Weinstein said it may be three or four months before room becomes available for Gray at the Anthony Center.

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