Yesterday, 10 months after Denise Harris caught her son with cocaine and turned him into the police, the case fell into the chaos of juvenile court. Antonio admitted to possessing cocaine, but the system gave itself yet another month to decide what to do with him.
Antonio, 13, the subject of a story in The Sun yesterday about delays in handling juvenile cases, went home with his mother at the end of a long, confusing day. He appeared in two courtrooms, was handcuffed and un-cuffed several times, and was in the courthouse from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m.
Until Aug. 20, when he will come back to court, Antonio will be effectively under house arrest. A computer operated by the court's community detention program will telephone his house frequently, and Antonio must prove he is home by inserting into the phone an electronic device attached to his wrist.
After his first arrest on drug charges last September, Antonio was sent home with his mother, as occurs in most juvenile arrests. The Baltimore Police Department then took eight months to move the paperwork to the state Department of Juvenile Services. Two more months passed as the case moved through Juvenile Services to the state's attorney's office, which filed the charge that came to court yesterday.
But during the time the paperwork on that first arrest was stalled in the Police Department, Antonio was arrested six more times on various charges, ranging from theft of a motorbike to possession of a rifle.
When the rifle case came last month before Kathryn Koshel, one of the seven juvenile "masters" who hear cases, she asked the Department of Juvenile Services to prepare a placement and treatment plan for Antonio before she decided his fate.
Yesterday, the rifle case was combined with the cocaine case and came before Ms. Koshel again. But the Department of Juvenile Services had failed to prepare the placement and treatment plan, so she postponed her decision again.
Linda Newburger, a Juvenile Services investigator, had no explanation for why the plan was not prepared. She noted that a psychiatric evaluation had been completed, and said her department generally accepts the recommendation of psychiatrists who examine a juvenile delinquent.
Ms. Koshel agreed to let Antonio, who has been detained at the Waxter Center in Laurel since May 26, go home. "I'm going to give you one more chance," she said.
Antonio promised to "do what's right," obey his mother and stay away from the drug corners where he used to hang out.