High school football star to face drug, gun charges as juvenile

Former player indicted after police raid home

January 15, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A 17-year-old former Howard County high school football star no longer faces adult drug and handgun charges after a judge ruled yesterday that his case should be handled by juvenile justice officials.

Devin T. Conwell, an all-county linebacker in 1998 from Long Reach High School, was indicted in September on adult drug and handgun possession charges resulting from a raid at his Columbia home.

Police officers found Conwell flushing a bag of marijuana down a toilet in the home and found a loaded handgun under a cushion in a sofa, said Assistant State's Attorney Keith Cave.

But at yesterday's hearing in Howard Circuit Court, Conwell's attorney convinced Judge Dennis M. Sweeney that Conwell deserved a "chance to prove himself."

"Let's give this young man an opportunity to be rehabilitated," said Vince Guida, his attorney.

Several witnesses, including Conwell's mother, testified that he had made a mistake but had always been a good student and athlete.

He got in trouble, they said, because he became a follower in a bad crowd. He can turn around, they said.

Sweeney agreed.

Conwell "still has the potential to be worked with," Sweeney said.

Cave had argued that the charges were too serious to be dealt with in the juvenile system and Conwell might be too old to help that way.

"This is an adult offense, a serious charge," Cave said.

Referring to the more than four pounds of marijuana and $6,000 found in Conwell's home during the raid, Cave said: "This is kingpin activity that the juvenile justice system was never meant to address."

Conwell was kicked off the Long Reach football team after his arrest in August. He played football and attended high school in Hammond, La., last fall.

He is about to enter school again in Baltimore County, where his family lives, Guida said.

Prosecutors are expected to file a juvenile petition soon accusing Conwell of the same charges and then schedule a trial date before a juvenile master.

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