Police upgrade teens' charges

2 Now charged as adults after toddler suffered chemical burns on slide

April 20, 2007|By Nick Shields | Nick Shields,SUN REPORTER

The two teenage boys charged earlier this week as juveniles in the chemical burning of a toddler at a Baltimore County playground will face adult charges, the county state's attorney's said yesterday.

Kyle Bradley Meredith and Mateusz Stefan Dybala, both 16 and from the Essex area, will be charged as adults with first-degree assault, county State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said.

Juvenile charges of reckless endangerment and second-degree burglary had been placed against the boys, after consultation with the state's attorney's office, police said earlier this week.

The new charges were the result of physical evidence found at the playground and analyzed by a crime lab, Shellenberger said. He would not elaborate on the nature of that evidence.

"We look at the law, follow evidence and do what we think is right," Shellenberger said. "The decision made on Monday, in light of the evidence, was right, and the decision that's being made now, in light of the evidence, is also right."

Police said the boys broke into a school storage area at Victory Villa Elementary School in Middle River and came across bottles of caustic drain cleaner, which they poured on a slide at the school playground, experimenting to see whether the chemical would burn the plastic. Seeing that it did not, they left with the chemical still on the slide, police said.

The liquid also was poured on other pieces of playground equipment, authorities said.

"I can tell you that they tested all of the equipment, and as a result, we decided that the additional upgraded charges were warranted," Shellenberger said yesterday.

Payton Potachney, who lives near the school, received second- and third-degree burns while going down the slide Saturday. The boy, who will turn 3 next month, underwent a skin graft this week at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Payton was undergoing another skin graft surgery late yesterday afternoon, Johns Hopkins Hospital Center officials said. He was in fair condition before the surgery, hospital officials said.

Attempts to reach toddler's relatives last night were unsuccessful.

After the teenagers were arrested Monday night on juvenile charges of reckless endangerment and second-degree burglary, the toddler's relatives complained that the suspects should face more serious charges. At the time, Shellenberger said evidence would continue to be reviewed, and additional charges could be filed later.

His office authorized the issuance of arrest warrants charging the suspects as adults with first-degree assault and related crimes. It was unclear last night whether those warrants had been served.

Attempts to reach the teens, who were released to their parents after the juvenile charges were brought, were unsuccessful.

County police spokesman Bill Toohey declined to comment yesterday on the new charges. Bill Blackford, an attorney from Severna Park, said yesterday that a first-degree assault conviction carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

nicholas.shields@baltsun.com

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