Carroll judge denies motion to move teen's heroin trial Youth charged with selling drug to student who died hTC

September 09, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County Circuit Court judge denied a motion yesterday to move the Sept. 21 trial of a 16-year-old Westminster boy who will be tried as an adult on charges of selling heroin to a schoolmate who died of an overdose in January.

Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. rejected the arguments of Anton J. S. Keating, a Baltimore attorney representing Kristopher Olenginski, saying common sense dictates that it is incumbent upon the state's attorney's office to prosecute crimes it also tries combat with public messages.

Beck also rejected Keating's argument that pretrial publicity would taint prospective jurors.

Keating said his client could not get a fair trial in Carroll County because members of the state's attorney's office had campaigned against heroin.

State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes was called as the only witness for the defense. Keating questioned Barnes about a countywide public awareness campaign that used four billboards, 250 signs and 30,000 magnets, all bearing the message "Heroin Kills."

Barnes said he paid for the billboard posters, signs and magnets with $2,800 of his money and donations from private citizens and business owners.

Some of the money also came from court-ordered donations to the state's attorney's substance abuse fund, he said. The magnets were ordered after members of the school system sought to promote the anti-heroin program by giving one to each of about 26,000 students, Barnes said.

Keating called the "Heroin Kills" message false, saying heroin "destroys," but does not often lead to deaths by overdose.

Keating also submitted more than 100 items from newspapers that linked his client to the overdose death of Liam O'Hara, 15, who was found dead in bed by his father Jan. 9, the morning after prosecutors allege Olenginski went to Baltimore, bought heroin and returned to Westminster to sell it to O'Hara.

Keating also contended that David P. Daggett and Brian DeLeonardo, assistant state's attorneys, helped plan and participated in a candlelight vigil for Liam O'Hara and other victims of heroin, as well as a rock concert that promoted an

anti-heroin theme.

DeLeonardo said Keating did not prove that his client suffered harm from pretrial publicity or from prosecutors participating in anti-heroin campaigns.

DeLeonardo said prospective jurors go to court for drunken driving cases knowing that driving while intoxicated is a crime, but they do not automatically presume that a defendant is guilty without hearing the facts.

Beck said former Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe would preside at the trial. Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. is on medical leave.

Pub Date: 9/09/98

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