Hearings delayed for 2 in bus beatings

Charges may be dropped if teens follow court orders

7 others to go to trial

January 27, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,SUN REPORTER

Baltimore prosecutors have agreed to drop charges against two of the nine teenagers charged in the December beating of a woman and her boyfriend on a city bus if the youths complete 15 hours of community service, attend school regularly and stay out of trouble for the next three months, according to court records obtained by The Sun.

On Thursday, Circuit Judge David W. Young signed two orders postponing the two boys' adjudicatory hearings - the equivalent of trials in juvenile court - for three months. One is 15; the other just turned 16.

"Once everyone had an opportunity to see all of the materials gathered, clearly my client was not really culpable or involved in the assault on either of these victims," said Jay M. Ortis, the attorney for one of the two middle schoolers named in the postponement orders. "The evidence was so weak against my client that we were able to reach an agreement to avoid going to trial. He'll be performing community service hours, and in exchange, the state's not going to prosecute his case."

The judge also released the two teens from home detention, and prosecutors agreed that the two would not be called to testify at the Thursday trial of the other seven teenagers.

The youths are charged with malicious destruction of property, disorderly conduct and assault. The primary victim, Sarah Kreager, 26, suffered two fractured eye sockets, two lacerations to the head, and multiple bruises as she was hit and kicked during the daytime fight, which began on a Route No. 27 bus and continued into the street, prosecutors said.

During an earlier hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Dawn Jones said the Robert Poole Middle School students left Kreager, who is homeless, lying in a gutter.

The argument apparently began over a seat on the crowded bus, but several defense attorneys representing the juveniles have said Kreager provoked the attack by spitting on Nakita McDaniels, 15. McDaniels filed countercharges against Kreager, which prosecutors did not pursue.

Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, declined to comment on the two postponements because it is a pending matter in juvenile court.

But in general, she said that mutual postponement orders give the accused "a second chance to prove that he or she has been rehabilitated."

"This finding is most often reserved by the court and prosecutors for juveniles who have had no previous contact with the juvenile justice system and who are the least culpable or the least involved in the offense," Burns wrote in an e-mail yesterday.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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