A Frederick County judge on Tuesday denied a request by prosecutors to try the 16-year-old boy charged in a fatal assault at The Great Frederick Fair as an adult, according to a press release from the county state’s attorney’s office.
The 16-year-old was the first of two brothers charged in the Sept. 20 death of 59-year-old Mount Airy resident John Weed to have his waiver hearing in Circuit Court, standing before Judge Julie Stevenson Solt in a daylong hearing in a sealed courtroom on Feb. 12. While Solt has not addressed the case publicly, the state’s attorney’s office released a statement after last week’s hearing indicating Solt had elected to issue her decision in a written statement Tuesday.
The 16-year-old 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, according to stories published previously by The Frederick News-Post.
The teen’s case has been sealed to the public since Dec. 18, and Solt’s decision was not made public Tuesday. However, State’s Attorney Charlie Smith issued a brief statement announcing the judge’s decision and later answered several questions.
“We argued differently, obviously, but we respect the judge’s decision and remain committed to prosecuting the case moving forward,” Smith said.
One difference between juvenile and adult courts is that sentences in juvenile courts are not given in a term of years, according to Smith, who explained that, in theory, youth committed in the juvenile system can remain in a facility only until they turn 21.
Smith was barred from commenting on the substance of Solt’s findings, but he confirmed that his office was able to disclose the decision and said he remains committed to issuing similar updates on scheduling and future steps in litigation made in the case. Smith also stood by his office’s decision to file a similar motion in the case of the 15-year-old co-defendant in the case who was charged with manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.
Smith said a number of factors were weighed before he and his prosecutors decided to file the waiver motions to try the juveniles as adults.
“The first and foremost is the serious nature of the offense as well as public safety, and we felt that, given the very serious nature of the charge and the violence involved, that they deserved to be tried as adults,” Smith said.
Prosecutors have said the 15-year-old landed the final blow in the assault, which happened on the midway at the fair shortly after the 16-year-old approached Weed to ask him for a dollar. The older boy then punched Weed in the back of the head, according to previous accounts relayed by sheriff’s deputies and prosecutors.
Stacey Steinmetz, an attorney representing the 16-year-old, could not immediately be reached for comment regarding the judge’s decision.
The 15-year-old’s case was also sealed before his own waiver hearing, which is scheduled to take place later this week.
Relatives of Weed have been present at several previous hearings, including last week’s waiver hearing, and have secured representation from the Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center Inc. Christopher C. Quasebarth, an attorney with the resource center, said the family did not have a statement following last week’s hearing, expressing their desire to wait until the judge issued her decision.
Neither Quasebarth nor a relative of Weed’s who has previously spoken to the media had returned a News-Post reporter’s attempts to reach them for comment as of Tuesday afternoon.