Youth justice system grilled

Prosecutors ask why parole officers failed to take boy off street

`Still working with him'

Beane, 17, charged in two killings, other violent assaults

February 16, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Maryland's juvenile justice system broke down in the case of 17-year-old Tyrone Beane, a prosecutor said yesterday, as legal problems deepened for the youth charged in two killings.

Beane, named the city's most wanted fugitive last month by police, appeared before Circuit Judge David W. Young.

The hearing was held to determine whether Beane should be tried as an adult on drug and assault charges stemming from an incident in November 2000. But the juvenile justice system seemed to be on trial as well.

A long tale unfolded in court of how Beane repeatedly ducked juvenile officers, cut an electronic monitor from his ankle and was arrested after being accused of several violent crimes.

Despite that, prosecutors say, his probation officer did not tell the court before yesterday that he was a danger to society, and the juvenile system had no role in taking him off the street.

The Department of Juvenile Justice, charged with monitoring his movements outside his home, did not file a warrant for his arrest until Jan. 24 -- days after police dubbed him the department's No. 1 wanted suspect.

"He wasn't amenable to treatment, but we were still working with him," testified Patricia Roberts, a probation officer with the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Assistant State's Attorney Janet S. Hankin grilled Roberts, asking why she did not warn the court of Beane's violent history at a hearing last month -- three days before police say he killed a man in East Baltimore.

"The Department of Juvenile Justice equates exhaustion of resources to amenability to treatment," Hankin said. "There are other factors to take into account, such as attitude, cooperativity and family support."

Hankin said the juvenile system should have known his proclivity for trouble and done more to prevent it.

"On one hand, you have to admire someone who does not want to give up on a teen-ager," she said. "On the other hand, there are times you have to say enough is enough in the interest of public safety."

Roberts told the court she learned that Beane was arrested on adult charges of hitting a man on the head with a gun and sticking the weapon in his mouth before his hearing Jan. 14, which was for a separate violent offense.

Instead of telling what she knew to a judge -- who could have taken Beane off the street -- Roberts agreed to postpone that hearing until yesterday because Beane's mother wanted a new lawyer.

"How does a mother's request for a new attorney change the Department of Juvenile Justice's recommendation?" Hankin asked.

Roberts said she wasn't ready to proceed with the hearing and recommend Beane be tried as an adult.

But Beane was not complying with controls set by the juvenile system. In December, he missed 40 out of 49 telephone and face-to-face appointments with a juvenile officer who was assigned to check on him, Roberts said.

Yesterday, she said her agency had changed its view, and she told the judge he should be tried as an adult for the assault and drug charges.

Beane, who has a baby face and is known by the nickname "Moochie," is thin and stands 5 feet 8 inches tall. He has a ninth-grade education and two bullets lodged in his abdomen after he was shot three times in April.

In November 2000, he was accused of kicking a couple out of their apartment, beating up the wife and selling cocaine and heroin from the apartment. He had been on probation for possession of cocaine for less than two months.

In April 2001, he was charged with handgun possession. In May, prosecutors dropped the gun charge because the weapon did not work. They dropped the assault and drug charges because they should never have been filed in criminal court; Beane was too young at the time of the offense to be charged as an adult.

The day after dropping those charges, prosecutors and police filed them in Juvenile Court.

Last month, Beane was charged in the shooting death Jan. 17 of Taharka McCoy, 25, and the killing July 25 of Christopher Smith, 17. Both victims lived in Baltimore.

Yesterday's hearing occurred after five postponements. Meanwhile, Beane had been ordered held on "community detention" with an electronic monitor, though, Roberts testified, he was not being closely watched.

The judge said Beane had cut his "anklet" monitor.

Young ruled that Beane should be tried as an adult on the drug and assault charges and set bail at $100,000.

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