Youth admits attempt to extort Old Mill student tried to capitalize on alleged murder-for-hire offer

August 02, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Old Mill Senior High School student hoping for probation will be sentenced at the end of this month, after his admission Friday that he tried to extort $500 from another student in an alleged murder-for-hire plot.

The 15-year-old from Glen Burnie spoke nervously and looked directly at Anne Arundel County Juvenile Master Philip T. Caroom as he admitted making a verbal threat.

The youth had been offered $100 by a classmate to kill a third student, authorities say, then demanded $500 or said he would tell authorities. When he was turned down, he told his mother.

The alleged plot came on the heels of several school shootings elsewhere in the country that have shocked parents as well as educators.

The Millersville teen-ager accused of solicitation for murder is scheduled for an Aug. 10 hearing. The Sun has agreed not to name the children because their cases are in juvenile court.

Ca- room agreed to order a psychological evaluation of the Glen Burnie teen-ager at the joint request of defense attorney Jeffrey Woodard and Assistant State's Attorney Danielle Mosley.

"What we are ultimately trying to get is probation," Woodard said outside the courtroom. He said he hoped to set his young client on "the right road."

Mosley said she had no initial objection to the prospect of probation but wanted more information about the youth.

The maximum sentence could be incarceration at a juvenile institution until age 21.

Sentencing will be Aug. 28.

Initially suspended from ninth grade, the teen-ager has been reinstated and will begin 10th grade in several weeks, his mother said. The other student, who has been described as severely learning-disabled, has been schooled at home by county teachers since the incident.

The alleged plot that stunned school officials unraveled March 30, according to police and prosecutors.

During the previous week, a ninth-grader offered the Glen Burnie youth $100 to kill a 16-year-old classmate who annoyed him by talking too much. The youth did not carry out the task, but instead, the next day, threatened to tell school officials unless he was given $500. The Millersville boy turned him down.

"He went home and told his mother," Mosley said.

The next day, the Glen Burnie teen-ager and his mother were at school, telling the chronology to school officials. Officials said the boy and his mother were attending a counseling program for students who get into fights. The youth had been in a fight earlier in the school year.

School officials were criticized for waiting until the weekend to alert police.

Whether the Glen Burnie teen-ager truly considered killing the other student, why he revealed the plot and if he has any propensity for violence are crucial questions, Robert R. Butterworth, a California psychologist and expert in youth violence, said in an interview.

The alleged plot also reflects a "culture of narcissism" in which feeling good about oneself is considered so important. "We are not supposed to be passive when we are wronged," Butterworth said, pointing to an increase in lawsuits as a symptom.

People "feel that when they are wronged they are entitled to some kind of revenge," he said.

Adolescents, especially those with any of a variety of problems, can be easily irritated.

A child with a learning disability may be unable to add conscience between thought and action, even though he may understand later that the action was inappropriate.

"Some kids with learning disabilities don't have that ability to think before they act," Butterworth said.

The Millersville youth was charged as an adult. But Circuit Judge Clayton R. Greene returned the case to juvenile court in June after hearing a psychologist and social worker describe the teen-ager as being a fourth-grader emotionally, unable to comprehend and communicate appropriately. County schools placed him in some regular classrooms with special assistance, but juvenile workers said a self-contained, small class with therapists on hand may suit him better.

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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