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Sentencing delayed for two city teens charged in robberies

August 01, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Sentencing was delayed Wednesday for two Hagerstown teenagers charged in a series of strong-arm robberies that began in the city late last year.

A Hagerstown man and three male juveniles were charged in March in connection with one or more of nine strong-arm robberies that began in November 2001 and continued to March 1, Hagerstown City Police said.

The four were friends who trolled the city streets looking for vulnerable people to rob, police have said. They either beat their victims or intimidated them into handing over money, police said.

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The 15-year-old entered an Alford plea to robbery on July 3, Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Michelle Flores said.

By entering an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there is enough evidence to convict, but doesn't admit guilt.

Since his plea, the boy has been held at the Maryland Youth Residential Center in Baltimore, Flores said.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright, sitting in Juvenile Court, sent the boy back to the residential facility, pending foster care placement and his Aug. 14 sentencing.

After discovering the boy's mother had recently been released from jail and was living with a relative in Gaithersburg, Md., Flores disagreed with the Department of Juvenile Justice's recommendation to release the boy to his mother's custody.

"That's not going to work," Wright said.

Upon hearing that, the boy leaned his head back on the courtroom railing and covered his eyes with his folded hands.

The boy's mother told Wright she was in jail for failing to send her 7-year-old daughter to school. Her daughter was placed in foster care in Washington County.

The woman said she was looking for housing in Montgomery County, Md.

She told Wright she had room for her son at the two-bedroom Gaithersburg apartment where she is staying with a relative and his fiancee.

If not for the family issues, Flores said, she would have recommended the boy be allowed to go home. She said it appeared the boy "is not a bad kid. This is a serious offense." This is his first offense, Flores said.

The 14-year-old defendant pleaded guilty on July 3 to second-degree assault and robbery, Flores said. He was placed on community detention, or house arrest.

That boy's sentencing was postponed until Aug. 7 because of new information that recently became available to his public defender, Flores said.

The third juvenile, 17, was committed to a Department of Juvenile Justice facility, Flores said. No further information was available concerning his sentencing.

The adult defendant, Anthony Caldwell, 18, of 27 E. Lee St., has an August trial date. He was being held without bond Wednesday at the Washington County Detention Center.

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