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Judge won't transfer attempted-murder case to juvenile court

April 17, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Matthew David Smith
Submitted photo

HAGERSTOWN — The case of a Hagerstown teenager charged with attempted murder will remain in adult court after Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell on Tuesday denied a defense request to transfer it to juvenile court.

Matthew David Smith, 18, of 321 N. Locust St. has been held without bond in the Washington County Detention Center since the Dec. 3 incident in which he is accused of repeatedly stabbing a man at the Arc of Washington County on Marshall Street, according to court records and the statement of probable cause filed by Hagerstown police.

The victim, Nelson N. Fuentes, had stab wounds and lacerations on his back and abdomen, the charging documents said. He was a resident at the facility.

Smith, who was 17 at the time, went to the house armed with a knife and accompanied by other males. He forced his way into the house and attacked Fuentes, whom he believed might have been having a relationship with his girlfriend, the documents said.

Smith’s mother, girlfriend and others went to Arc of Washington County to warn Fuentes and witnessed the attack, the documents said. It was Smith’s mother who took the knife away from him, the documents said.

The court must consider several factors to transfer a case from adult to juvenile jurisdiction, including the defendant’s age, mental and physical development, amenability to treatment, the nature of the crime and public safety, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison said.

Smith had 17 contacts with juvenile authorities in the seven years before the stabbing, said Renita Statler, a case-management specialist with the Department of Juvenile Services. Thirteen of those incidents involved assaults, including some on the staff and residents at juvenile facilities, Statler testified.

Smith was nearly 18 at the time of the stabbing, was in special education while in school, and is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 260 pounds, Statler testified.

He quit going to counseling and stopped taking medications for bipolar disorder and other conditions, she said.

Smith also spent time in lockdown at the detention center for disciplinary infractions.

“Based on all the criteria, we felt he could be treated in the adult system,” Statler testified.

Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher McCormack told McDowell in his closing argument that Smith’s history of violence dated to elementary school, when he was expelled for throwing a desk at a teacher and threatening to kill her.

Renee Burgan, a forensic social worker with the Public Defender’s Office, testified Smith could be amenable to treatment in a secured juvenile facility, where he could receive education, counseling and other services until he is 21.

In denying the transfer, McDowell read from a report that Smith was “at high risk of continued delinquent activity” and possible violent criminal acts.

First-degree attempted murder carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Smith is also charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, carrying a concealed dangerous weapon and first- and third-degree burglary, court records show.

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