Fair Assault Death COURTESY

Police activity seen from the Ferris wheel at The Great Frederick Fair shortly after the deadly assault in September.

A Frederick County judge’s decision on whether a 16-year-old boy charged in last year’s fatal assault at The Great Frederick Fair is to be tried as an adult will be released later this month.

Circuit Judge Julie Stevenson Solt heard several hours of testimony in a sealed courtroom Wednesday from both the state’s attorney’s office and Stacey Steinmetz, an attorney for the boy, but no decision was made by the time court convened for the day shortly after 4 p.m. While both sides have been barred from discussing details of the case, a press release issued Wednesday afternoon by the Frederick County State’s Attorney’s Office revealed that Solt had advised the attorneys that she intends to issue a written opinion on the matter on Feb. 18.

The state’s attorney’s office filed petitions on both of the teens charged, the 16-year-old and his 15-year-old brother, arguing that the teens’ cases should be tried in adult court. Neither case had been decided as of Wednesday.

The assault happened on the midway of the fairgrounds at about 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 when, according to witness accounts and footage obtained by the sheriff’s office, the 16-year-old approached 59-year-old Mount Airy resident John Weed and asked him for a dollar. A short time later, the 16-year-old punched Weed in the back of the head, according to previous accounts provided by sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors.

Prosecutors have said the 15-year-old delivered the final blow in the assault, leading them to charge him with manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault, while his older brother was charged with two counts of second-degree assault: one for the initial assault on Weed and another for spitting on Weed after he fell to the ground.

While the teens had previously been in a juvenile detention center, the 16-year-old left the courthouse in the company of several relatives after Wednesday’s court hearing. It was not immediately clear whether the 15-year-old was still in juvenile detention as of Wednesday.

Steinmetz said neither she nor the teen and his family would make any statements Wednesday.

Several of Weed’s relatives were also present Wednesday, along with Christopher C. Quasebarth, a staff attorney with the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center, who addressed media inquiries on their behalf after the hearing.

“The family is, of course, still grieving the tragic loss of their son and brother,” Quasebarth said. “And until the court reaches a decision for [the defendant], the family doesn’t have more to say at this time.”

Follow Jeremy Arias on Twitter: @Jarias_Prime.

Jeremy Arias is the Frederick city and government reporter for The Frederick News-Post.

(17) comments

HappySeller2014

We do not know if the first, or second, punch killed the man. What did the autopsy say? Are these kids out in the public again? In our public schools? Why aren't both of these individuals still in custody? Or, are they?

We want to know FNP.

Story for you. I am one of six children of a hardworking set of blue collar parents. I have had to fight, scrounge, suffer and earn everything in my life. From the start. Just like all five of my good brothers and sisters.

I give myself credit for the good in my life. I own up and take responsibility for the bad. Every morning I can look in the mirror and see a good, law abiding, man.

Blaming people's actions on the environment, or culture, or lack or opportunity, or simply anything but themselves is disingenuous, disgusting and pathetic. From the formation of this country up through the 1980s, blaming anyone and anything but yourself for your troubles was scoffed at, ridiculed, and dismissed. Expecting special treatment, and blaming everything but yourself for your problems, was seen as a cop out. Nowadays, spilling hot coffee in your lap in a drive-thru has won a lawsuit against McDonalds.

Take a real good, hard look at that video circulating. In a different era, that could be confused with a cockfight or dogfight. But, it happended last fall at the midway of our own county fair?

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] Happy!

HappySeller2014

According to the state legislature, if you are 13 years or older you can now be arrested, fined, and have a criminal history for releasing balloons into the sky.

These two individuals were ages 15 and 16 when they killed a man. Spit on him when he was down. Jumped up and down while a grown man was dying with a sucker punch to the head. No remorse. No sense of concern.

Throw the book at them. If you are old enough in this state at age 13 to know right from wrong regarding releasing a balloon, at ages 15 and 16 you are old enough to know that spitting on a man, sucker punching and killing him, and then jumping around is wrong. And deserves long prison sentences.

End of discussion. Could care less their brains were not fully formed. Teenagers have fought in wars since time eternal. They knew what they were doing.

jagman

The video proves exactly what they did. Particularly the jumping around afterward. It was disgusting.

Try them both as adults and sentence them to the fullest extent of the law.

It's time to send a message that this type of thing will not be tolerated.

If not, Frederick deserves what it gets.

Kelpfarming

The 16 year old they are diligently trying to paint as just a little boy committed an act that is PERMANENT. When your acts leave a permanent effect on someone how is it anotehr chance is righteous? I dont think Im alone in saying Im sick and tired of endless excusing for certain groups behaviour. How is it poverty isnt bearing the same fruit with American Indians and Appalachian euro-americans? They know poverty...but you dont hear about them clocking other r4ces out for the fun of it.

Maybe not having things and its apparent connection to abhorrent behaviour was just an excuse.

mrnatural1

Contrary to what many people seem to think, our criminal justice system has several goals beyond "lock him/her up!". The one that is always focused on is punishment -- especially if the perp is not a friend or family member. However, in addition to punishment we have:

* accurate identification of the person responsible

* fair adjudication

* protection of society / incapacitation

* retribution

* deterrence

* rehabilitation

* restoration

It can be tempting to revert to 19th century practice and try juveniles as adults, especially in serious cases. However, age 18 has long been established as the age of legal majority, and with good reason. Even at age 18 the brain is not fully developed, let alone at a younger age.

If it is OK for courts or DA's offices to just toss out/lower the age of majority when it "feels right", then it follows that it should be alright for 13 and 14 year old kids to get driver's licenses and 15 and 16 year old teenagers to be in 'adult videos' -- if they seem mature for their age by some ill-defined subjective measure. After all, those ages -- 16 and 18 respectively -- are just rough guidelines, right?

Here is a good PDF about the subject:

https://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/Documents/cj/front_end_young-adults_v04_web.pdf

This is a good piece that is relevant to this case:

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/childrens-rights/articles/2016/should-juveniles-be-charged-as-adults/

Quote:

"The reason that juvenile courts were originally created in the nineteenth century was because society recognized that juveniles did not have the cognitive development that adults had, would benefit more from rehabilitative services to prevent recidivism, and needed more protections. Sociological and political shifting of attitudes caused legislators to believe they needed to be “tough on crime,” and transfers of juveniles to adult court became more frequent. Results of those policies demonstrate that they have failed as recidivism rates for juveniles increased when prosecuted in adult court versus juvenile court.

Reforms need to occur just as swiftly as the reforms to prosecute more juveniles in adult court began, so that the emphasis can shift back to focusing on the best interests of the child when juveniles are charged with crimes. Juveniles need resources to equip them to succeed when they are released from juvenile facilities, rather than face the devastating effects of being housed in adult prison systems. Juveniles should be treated as juveniles in the court justice system, with a focus on rehabilitating rather than simply punishing."

acslifer

A very well-written, thoughtful post. This is indeed a difficult case and I appreciate your well-reasoned comment.

neilyoungfan25

Natural - I agree a lot of what you have stated. Where we part ways is the visuals the videos showed us. What is so disturbing to me and many others is how these two boys jumped around gleefully next to a man lying on the ground, who was dying due to the actions of one of these boys. Then, what is really horrifying is the spitting on this poor man by these kids. This is the game changer for many people. I get it that the boys probably never meant to kill Mr. Weed. But when they clearly could see what they had done, they danced and jumped for joy and spit ontheir victim like he was a piece of trash. At that point, those boys became ruthless animals!

mrnatural1

neilyoungfan25,

I'll admit, I haven't seen the videos. That does sound very bad, indefensible. I'm sure their actions will be taken into account at sentencing, and they will likely receive the max under the sentencing guidelines, as they should.

I maintain though that Maryland has established 18 as the age of legal majority for a reason. When people are younger than 18 -- and many professionals would set an even higher age, like 22 or 24 -- their brain is not fully developed. Teenagers are not emotionally or cognitively "adults". They have notoriously poor judgment. They take crazy risks. For that reason, regardless of the charges against them, the courts (generally) treat anyone 17 and under as a juvenile. That doesn't mean they do not get punished, just that their state of mental development is taken into account.

In the future, the state could establish a lower age if it wants to (a few states do), but whatever the age limit is, we should stick to it -- not have it be 18 for some and 15 for others.

This crime is particularly horrific, but the law does not say the age of legal majority shall vary depending upon the severity of the crime.

I completely understand the victims' friends and family being focused on punishment -- and both boys, and they are *boys*, should be severely punished. I'm sure they will be.

At the same time we have to keep in mind that all 'perps' are not equal. A 6 year old child is not the same as a 16 year old teenager, and that 16 year old is not the same as a 36 year old man. Our criminal justice system treats them differently -- just as a mentally challenged individual is treated differently than a fully competent adult.

Most people would agree that's as it should be. It would be immoral to treat a person who -- for whatever reason -- is not fully competent as if they were.

For anyone who would like to see one or both of these boys charged as adults, the obvious question is, "What age would they have to be before you would allow them to be tried as juveniles?"

As heinous as this attack was, as you said, "...the boys probably never meant to kill Mr. Weed". They clearly deserve to be severely punished, however, we need to keep in mind that there are several degrees of homicide. First degree murder; Second degree murder; voluntary manslaughter; involuntary manslaughter, etc. This case would probably fall under 'voluntary manslaughter'.

Of course there have been cases where the court decides to allow a juvenile to be tried as an adult. That has always concerned me, because it seems ripe for abuse. Whether or not a defendant is tried as an adult or juvenile might be influenced by: gender; race; citizenship status; ethnicity; social status/family wealth; competence of their attorney, etc.

KellyAlzan

An innocent person is dead. He’s not returning. Got it?

mrnatural1

Thank you for the kind words acslifer.

HappySeller2014

Mrnatural1, you need to take a hard look at the video circulating. Then, get back to us on this board if you can still rationalize your earlier posts with what you viewed on the video.

Having seen the video, it is hard to reconcile with the information in your posts, although your posts were very good.

HappySeller2014

But at age 16 you can drive? Come on.

Age 18 is just a number. Someone was sucker punched twice, spat on and killed...and then folks jumping around.

I do not buy people's heads still forming at age 16 if they can drive. And be arrested and fined at age 13 for releasing balloons nowadays.

You learn right from wrong at about age five when you are playing around with all the other kids in a sandbox. After age five, things just happen that reinforce your beliefs in right and wrong.

Kelpfarming

Once again..the RESULTS of a 10, 20 or 30 years are THE SAME. The victim was humiliated AND dead. Never forget...he dont get a second chance.

Kelpfarming

Typical excusing. You forgot to add that that horrible 19th century policing made our streets safer, schools something kids respected AND our people were educated in self motivation..not denying reality and blaming the world. Dont forget the positive sides of that awful western society you are thumbing in the face..again. Maybe where you come from excusing assault and foul language is just part of the spice of diversity..sorry, I will take Japan, Norway and Switzerland culture ANY day over what people keep trying to sell in the decaying west. Cheers

Dwasserba

In any case, I would prefer juveniles who killed people to be rehabbed very much separately from other juvenile offenders...long ago, when I rented a room in a convent home as an 18 year old, my next door neighbor who came to be my friend, had spent a couple years in a notorious PA juvenile facility for using her dad's Rx pad to get drugs. I did not know the rep of the place she'd been at the time, but the tale is the kind that sticks with you. She did not offend again, but it wasn't easy maintaining independence without a GED or the family that disowned her.

Kelpfarming

Yeh, what about the victim? We are still healing from crimes 80 years ago. But today we are to forget and give them another chance?

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