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14-year-old taxi robber to be placed in psychiatric program

April 04, 2001

14-year-old taxi robber to be placed in psychiatric program



By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A 14-year-old boy who pointed a gun at a cab driver during a December robbery in Hagerstown will be placed in a psychiatric treatment program, a judge decided Wednesday.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald Beachley ordered a 15-year-old girl who took part in the same crime to have a psychiatric examination, then return to court in 30 days.

The boy, a Hagerstown resident, pleaded guilty on March 21 to single counts of armed robbery and discharging a firearm. The girl, from Falling Waters, W.Va., pleaded guilty that same day to conspiracy to commit robbery.

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Their cases were prosecuted in Washington County Juvenile Court.

A third defendant, Joseph Wayne Mason, 16, of 130 Ray St., Hagerstown, has been charged as an adult with armed robbery, first-degree assault, carrying a concealed weapon and reckless endangerment. He was being held at the Washington County Detention Center.

Hagerstown City Police said the girl got in a Turner Taxi cab on the 100 block of Doub Way on Dec. 15. Two boys then approached the driver's side window, pointed guns at the driver, demanded money and fired their guns in the air, police said.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Susan Lochbaum said in court that the boy has a history of violence and aggressiveness and needs psychological and behavior modification counseling.

She agreed with a state Department of Juvenile Justice recommendation that the boy get treatment in an institutional environment.

Beachley said the Department of Juvenile Justice will choose which treatment center is right for the boy, who will be held at the Noyes Detention Center in Rockville, Md., until the decision is made.

"He really knows he has these problems," said Elisha Elliott, the boy's attorney assigned through the state public defender's office. "He just doesn't know what to do about these problems."

Upon hearing that the boy has an IQ of 129, the judge said, "This is a kid who's wasting all his ability."

A mental health professional who has worked with the boy called him "extremely bright," but "psychologically naive" and easily influenced.

"I'm really sorry," the boy told the judge.

The girl will be evaluated at the Thomas B. Finan Center's Child and Adolescent Unit in Cumberland, Md. According to Lochbaum, the girl's last psychiatric exam was in September.

Beachley urged the girl to be honest during her evaluation and to discuss topics such as whether she ever has been abused.

The girl's home life is "seriously disturbed" and she has had psychiatric problems, Lochbaum said in court.

Both the girl and her mother asked Beachley to let the girl go home. Beachley declined.

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