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Girl who hid gun after toddler shot himself is ordered to live in group home

Fantaisa Shantal Rivera will remain in juvenile detention until she is placed

March 02, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

A Washington County judge Wednesday ordered a 17-year-old girl who hid a handgun at a playground after a toddler shot himself placed in a group home.

Fantaisa Shantal Rivera, who admitted to hindering and obstructing police and was found delinquent in a February court appearance, will remain in juvenile detention until she is placed in the group home, Judge Donald E. Beachley ordered at a hearing held in Washington County Juvenile Court.

Rivera had also been charged with false statements to police, possession of a firearm by a minor, theft and illegal possession of a firearm in connection with the accidental shooting of 2-year-old Mario Longus in his Little Elliott Drive apartment on Sept. 27, 2010.

Mario Longus, who was initially taken to Children's National Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.,  remains paralyzed from the stomach down and now lives in a licensed therapeutic foster home, a county Department of Social Services official told Beachley.

After Mario Longus shot himself in the chest with a stolen handgun he found under a bed, Rivera took the weapon outside, hid it at a playground and then lied to police, according to the charging documents filed by the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

Charged as an adult and awaiting trial in April is Rivera's boyfriend, 17-year-old Marcus Longus, who is Mario Longus's older brother.

Longus is also charged with hindering and obstructing police, false statements to police and firearms charges, but his videotaped confession was the subject of a suppression hearing last month. A ruling on that motion had not been made as of Wednesday.

"Ms. Rivera does suffer a problem with maturity," Assistant State's Attorney Brett Wilson said. Although Rivera has said she wants help, "there's a lack of understanding that help comes from within first," he said.

"Even though she's 17, her behavior is much more like a young child," Rivera's attorney Bernard W. Semler II told Beachley. "Fantaisa just cannot get out of her own way because of her immaturity."

Wilson and Semler both told Beachley that Rivera should be placed in a group home or community-based detention outside of Washington County.

Originally charged as an adult, Rivera was released on bail, and her case was transferred to juvenile court. After the transfer, she was placed on home detention with an electronic monitor, but violated the terms of her detention when she left her mother's home without permission.

Beachley placed her in secured juvenile detention as a result of the violation.

As part of Wednesday's disposition, Beachley told Rivera's mother she must pay the Department of Juvenile Services $575 for the electronic-monitoring  ankle bracelet that was never found.

Rivera also must not have any contact with Marcus Longus or his family, Beachley ordered.

Rivera could remain under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court until she is 21, Wilson said.

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