Judge orders drug treatment for teen Girl, 16, is one of three accused of carjacking try

August 04, 1996|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

Sixteen and shackled, Asia T. McPhaul stood before a Howard County Circuit judge. Her all-white clothes cut a pristine image, destroyed only when she began to walk and her leg irons clanked together.

McPhaul is one of three teen-age girls accused of the attempted carjacking of an Ellicott City man in June after the three walked away from a local drug-treatment center. The carjacking and robbery charges against her carry a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison.

Judge Dennis Sweeney ruled that McPhaul -- mother of an 18-month-old baby -- will be allowed out of jail to attend a 30-day program at a drug-treatment facility before her November trial. After the program, another hearing will determine if she will be returned to jail before trial.

"She's a child," her attorney, Richard Bernhardt, said after a bond hearing Friday. "All she was was a tag-along in the group this whole thing smacks of juvenile stupidity."

The girls charged with McPhaul -- Denise T. VanRyn, 16, and a 14-year-old charged as a juvenile -- are being held in custody until their trials. VanRyn is from Baltimore and the 14-year-old is from Anne Arundel County. McPhaul had been in foster care in Prince George's County,

The cases come as social workers and law enforcement officials across the country worry about the rising involvement of girls in crime. Referrals of girls to the Howard County Department of Juvenile Justice have more than doubled in the past six years.

Local school officials and social workers say they are working now to redirect wayward girls and prevent them from lapsing into serious crime.

Girls "are committing the same crimes that boys are committing," said Pat Kelly, a pupil services worker with the Howard County school system. "We figure if we can keep them in school they are not as likely to become involved with the juvenile justice system.

In court Friday, Bernhardt argued that McPhaul had little involvement in the June 21 incident.

Charging documents say three girls left the Oakview Treatment Center about 2 a.m. They approached a man outside his house on Wheaton Way and one told him they were runaways from Washington and asked to use his phone to call a cab, the documents say.

After the man refused, another girl asked for a light for a cigarette. When the man started his car to activate the lighter, the girl indicated that she had a weapon in her pocket, told him she had a gun and demanded his keys, the charging document says. The man asked to keep his apartment key and ran inside to call police as the girls climbed into the car. Police later arrested them near the scene.

McPhaul and VanRyn are being tried as adults because a carjacking charge at age 16 automatically bumps them to adult status.

Bernhardt said he will try to have McPhaul's case moved to juvenile court.

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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