Youth held in death of Crofton teen to remain at Mich. juvenile facility

Judge denies his request to return home

December 14, 2010|By Andrea F. Siegel, The Baltimore Sun

The request by the younger of two teens found responsible for the death of a Crofton youth in 2009 that he be released from a Michigan juvenile facility and continue rehabilitation at home was denied Tuesday.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge J. Michael Wachs said that while the youth, now 16, had made progress during 13 months of therapy, he was not ready to continue treatment under less restrictive supervision at home.

"Today is just not the day. [He] is not quite ready," Wachs said after a two-hour hearing, the first the youth has had since he was sent to Turning Point, in St. Johns, Mich., by the Department of Juvenile Services.

In September 2009, the teen was found to have committed manslaughter in the death of Christopher Jones, 14, who was punched as he bicycled toward his mother's home. Because of his age and because he was tried as a juvenile, the youth is not being named by The Sun.

Christopher's death raised concerns about teen gang violence in the suburbs. It also led to a retaliatory firebombing against the wrong person, efforts to build a community center in Crofton and changes in state law.

He did not belong to a local gang but had friends who were in rival crews.

After Tuesday's hearing, Christopher's parents, David Jones and Jennifer Adkins, said they agreed with the judge's decision. They have sued the youths involved and the public school system, contending that their son had been bullied in school.

"How would you like [the youth] coming home and playing with your kids?" David Jones said. "He's going to come out one day, that's a fact. But if he is getting good treatment at that place, he should stay there so he is rehabilitated."

Adkins said she knows that the youth must be released from state supervision when he turns 21, though a judge can free him sooner.

The clinical director of Turning Point, Tiyana Whitt, testified by telephone that the teen has made strides in behavior, communication and other areas, is engaged in family and other therapy, and needs structure.

The youth made a brief statement from Turning Point, saying that he has walked away from disputes and earned the chance to go home. His father and stepmother have moved from Crofton.

Assistant Public Defender Kimber Watts said she and boy's father were disappointed by the judge's decision.

The youth's request came 15 months after he was ordered to spend up to six years at a juvenile facility for manslaughter when he was 14 years old. The other youth involved, Javel M. George, now 17, was charged with manslaughter as an adult. He was prosecuted as a juvenile and is being held at a different out-of-state facility. His release has not been sought.

According to prosecutors, the teens confronted Christopher a couple of blocks from his mother's townhouse and accused him of making a derogatory remark about a friend.

Christopher denied making the statement. The youth punched Christopher once in the left cheek. George then hit him on the other cheek. The blows damaged an artery that carries blood to the back of the brain, killing him, according to a medical examiner.

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