Juvenile court briefs

April 15, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

Youth admits role in skating rink arson

A middle school seventh-grader admitted Wednesday to being involved in an October arson at Family Skating Center in Halfway.

The youth admitted to reckless endangerment in connection with an Oct. 12 arson at the skating rink that led to the evacuation of skaters and damaged the building. No patrons were injured.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Flores said that the youth had bragged to friends at school about his involvement in the fire.

She said the youth bought a lighter at a Dollar General store and found a hairspray can behind the bowling alley that he used to apply to the fire.


The youth's attorney, Wiley Rutledge, said that there was no disputing that the youth added hairspray to the fire.

A Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman said that the youth maintains a B average, but has a small history of disrespect and property damage.

The youth's parents testified that their son has been restricted to their home, except for attending church group meetings.

"There have been repeated patterns of verbal abuse of (the youth) at school that have affected him," Rutledge said.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, delayed the youth's disposition and asked Flores and told Department of Juvenile Services employees, "I'd like some thought into how we can press upon this young man how serious this issue is ... People could have been hurt," he said.

Teen ordered to serve community detention

A 17-year-old who last week was sent temporarily to a detention facility after saying he couldn't get along with his mother was ordered Wednesday to serve community detention and probation on a charge that he stole videotapes from the Hagerstown Wal-Mart in January.

The youth's disposition was delayed from last week to Wednesday after Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, ordered him to spend some time in detention.

The youth, who had been living with his pregnant girlfriend, said last week that he and his mother fought like "cats and dogs" and he was hesitant about being sent to live with her.

On Wednesday the youth, reading from a piece of notebook paper, said he's never before been to juvenile court or to a detention facility. "I'd like to say it's not a fun place to be," he said.

His mother said she'd be happy to take her son back into her house.

"I, myself, have kept in touch with (the youth) throughout the process," she said. "He realized that it was the way he spoke with you in court that placed him (in detention)."

Beachley ordered the youth to return to his mother's house and be on community detention for 20 days, followed by probation.

"All is not negative about you. You are able to hold a full-time job. You are going to try to be a father, right?" he asked.

"Yes sir," the youth replied.

Youth admits causing school, store damage

A 13-year-old who admitted to breaking down a school bathroom door and to breaking out a window at Blockbuster Video was placed on probation Wednesday.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Flores said that on Jan. 30, up to $1,000 worth of damage was done to a Western Heights Middle School gym restroom door, which the eighth-grader admitted to kicking in.

She said that at 2:10 a.m. on Aug. 17, a window of a Blockbuster Video was reported broken out but no items were stolen.

Flores said that the next day, the youth's father called police to tell them that his son confessed to breaking into the store and had tried to wash his clothes after the incident.

The youth admitted Wednesday to malicious destruction of property in the school case and to fourth-degree burglary in the video store case.

Flores said Blockbuster Video had been paid for damages, but said the youth owed the Washington County Board of Education up to $1,000 for damages to the door.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, sitting in juvenile court, commended the youth's father for calling the police about his son.

He asked the youth to set up a face-to-face appointment with the school's principal to apologize for his actions in the restroom.

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