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Teen released from jail after plea

December 03, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A Hagerstown teenager who cut his brother with a paring knife during a fight in July was released from jail Tuesday after pleading guilty in Washington County Circuit Court to a charge of second-degree assault.

Dustin Eugene Slavens, 17, also was charged with attempted second-degree murder after the fight at the Elizabeth Street home he shared with his mother and brother.

But after two witnesses, including his mother, changed their stories, lawyers agreed to the plea arrangement. As a result, the attempted murder charge and three other charges were dropped.

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Circuit Judge John H. McDowell placed Slavens on 18 months of supervised probation. If Slavens violates his probation orders, he could face up to four years in prison.

McDowell forbade Slavens to live at the Elizabeth Street home for the duration of his probation and ordered him to live with a family friend in Cascade. Slavens will have to complete his high school equivalency, undergo a mental health evaluation and complete 50 hours of community service.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Arthur Rozes said Tuesday that Hagerstown City Police officers were called at 4:30 a.m. on July 31 to 111 Elizabeth St.

When police arrived, they found Colton Slavens, 20, had received a gash to his stomach, Rozes said. The ensuing investigation revealed that Colton and Dustin Slavens had been playing a video game and began arguing.

The argument turned into a fight, and Dustin Slavens got a paring knife, which he used to cut his brother. Dustin Slavens was treated for cuts on his hands, Rozes said.

At the time of the incident, police said Colton Slavens needed 50 staples to close his wounds.

Colton Slavens was being held without bond at the Washington County Detention Center on unrelated charges for failing to appear in court, according to detention center records.

Dustin Slavens' attorney, Gordon Lynn, told McDowell Tuesday that he had taken taped statements from Slavens' mother and a friend, but when he compared them to tape-recorded statements given to police, "there was substantial changes in testimony."

Without specifying what the changes were, Lynn said the changes affected the ability to try the case before a jury.

Rozes told McDowell he was not aware of any prior juvenile record for Dustin Slavens, and Lynn told McDowell that he had received several calls from people who knew Slavens, and they told him "it was not in his character to behave like this."

"I think Mr. Slavens is a bright kid" with potential to do well, Lynn said. But "there hasn't been a lot of guidance in this case. ... I don't think you're gonna see Mr. Slavens back in this court."

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