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Juvenile court briefs

March 11, 2004

Teen sentenced to supervised probation


A 14-year-old boy who admitted in juvenile court Wednesday to bringing a knife to school was ordered on indefinite supervised probation and given a lengthy lecture on how to work on his attitude by a Washington County Circuit Court judge.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Steven Kessell said that on Dec. 9 Hagerstown Police Department officers responded to Western Heights Middle School and found that the youth had in his possession a knife that he had been trying to hide from his principal.

A county school system spokeswoman said the eighth grader was sent to Antietam Academy and changed his attitude from being loud and disruptive at the middle school to being highly cooperative and a "pleasure" at the behavioral school. He since has been sent back to the middle school and has not been a problem there, she said.

The youth, whom police said had on occasion carried an ice pick for protection from bullies, said, "I know what I did was wrong and I'm taking full responsibility."

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Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III, sitting in juvenile court, smiled at his admission.

"This is the whole essence of this system ... for juveniles to change their attitude," Wright said.

As the youth was walking out of the courtroom and another youth's case was moving forward, Wright stopped him on his way out the door for one more lecture.

"I heard that you've done well in one setting ... that means that you can do it again," Wright said. "I know that you can do it."

The youth stood from behind the rail and nodded in response to each of Wright's words of advice.

"You're walking a tightrope in your present school setting and only you can decide on which side you're gonna fall," Wright said. "If you don't show them that you've changed your attitude, then you haven't changed your attitude."

Judge decides to continue teen's case


The mother of a 13-year-old who admitted to waving a knife at his peers did not communicate with the Department of Juvenile Services, so a Washington County Circuit Court judge, sitting in juvenile court Wednesday, decided to continue the case.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Steven Kessell said that on Oct. 24 after the boy showed a knife to friends on a school bus, the boy got out of the bus and "began swinging the knife around, picked a cigarette box off the ground and began cutting it up."

Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III said he didn't feel comfortable moving forward with the disposition Wednesday because the boy's mother has not been cooperative with the juvenile department. He ordered a pre-disposition investigation for the youth.

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