Juvenile court to hear case of boy's role in homicide

June 09, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

The case against a 15-year-old Frederick boy who was charged as an adult in connection with a homicide last year in Hagerstown was sent to juvenile court Thursday by a Washington County Circuit judge.

Irving Atillio Benitez, 15, is expected to admit in juvenile court to involuntary manslaughter for his role in the Dec. 10, 2005, stabbing death of Eliezer Rodriguez in the 100 block of West North Avenue, his attorney, Wiley Rutledge, said Thursday, announcing an agreement he made with the prosecutor.

A hearing for Benitez's planned admission will be held separately from his disposition, the juvenile equivalent of sentencing, the attorneys agreed.

Benitez was charged as an adult with first-degree and second-degree murder, among other charges, in connection with Rodriguez's death.

"Mr. Benitez's involvement was apparently not as significant as others," said Circuit Judge John H. McDowell, who ordered the transfer.

Angel Teodoro Villatoro, 36, Benitez's co-defendant, is scheduled to go on trial July 17 on charges of first-degree and second-degree murder, among others.


McDowell ordered that Benitez, who has been held at the Washington County Detention Center as an adult since his arrest, be detained at a juvenile detention facility pending his disposition.

McDowell said the transfer of the case to juvenile court "is age appropriate" and Benitez appears amenable to treatment through the juvenile system.

Under Maryland statute, since Benitez was 14 at the time he was charged with first-degree murder - a charge that carries a possible life sentence - he automatically was charged as an adult. Juveniles who are 14 or 15 and charged with such an offense have the opportunity to have a hearing to decide whether their case should be transferred to juvenile jurisdiction.

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