A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting a former neighbor in his back and paralyzing him during a fight over a dog last August will be tried as an adult, a judge decided yesterday.
Attorneys for Raheem Ameen Jones argued during a Howard Circuit Court hearing that the boy's case should be handled in the county's juvenile court, but Judge Raymond Kane Jr. denied their request.
The Jones youth, who now lives in Reisterstown, is charged with attempted murder. Police say he shot 19-year-old Christopher Graham while the victim lay on the ground after being shot in the leg by another teen-ager.
Police said Mr. Graham reportedly kicked the Jones youth's dog during an argument at the Hannibal Grove apartment complex in Columbia's Wilde Lake village. The Jones youth and the other teen-ager went to the Jones apartment, came back with guns and fired at Mr. Graham, police said. The second gunman has not been apprehended.
"This is not a childhood prank," Judge Kane said. "[The defendant] is a risk for similar conduct in the future."
During the hearing, the defendant slowly rocked back and forth in his chair between his two attorneys. He didn't seem to look at Mr. Graham, who sat in a wheelchair beside his mother in the courtroom's gallery.
The defendant could be sentenced to life in prison if he is convicted of attempted murder and six related charges. He is scheduled for a Circuit Court trial Feb. 27.
Had his case been sent to juvenile court, it's unlikely that the youth would have spent more than two years in a detention facility if he had been convicted.
The defendant, who turns 16 next week, was indicted as an adult, but his attorneys requested a "reverse waiver" that would have sent the case to juvenile court.
To determine whether the youth should stand trial in juvenile court, Judge Kane had to consider five factors: the defendant's age, his mental and physical condition, his alleged actions, whether he posed a threat to the public, and whether treatment would help prevent other incidents.
Prosecution and defense attorneys each presented evaluations that agree the defendant has a conduct disorder, meaning that his actions do not follow society's norms.
The reports, however, disagree on whether a stay at a juvenile detention facility would help him.
Towson psychologist James Smith, who prepared the defense's evaluation, testified that the youth's condition could be corrected if he were sent to a detention facility. There, he would be in a structured environment and could learn to understand the consequences of his actions, Dr. Smith said.
The psychologist testified that he believed the alleged shooting was beyond Mr. Jones' normal behavior and that a similar incident would not occur.
"He may have gotten in over his head," Dr. Smith said. "I don't think he was really equipped to make a reasonable kind of decision."
But the prosecution's evaluation, by the county Department of Juvenile Services, says the youth is angry and hostile, has shown little remorse for the shooting and believes his behavior is justified.
Andrew Watt, supervisor of the department, testified that he doesn't believe a detention facility would provide enough treatment. "I'm just not as optimistic that we can reach Raheem and turn his life around," he said.
Mr. Watt acknowledged that it was difficult for him to recommend that the youth be tried as an adult. He advised Judge Kane not to look just at the youth's age, but his actions as well.
"Shooting a human being is a horrible situation," Mr. Watt said. "It's hard to imagine anything that would be more of a threat [to the public] than shooting an individual outside an apartment complex."