A Frederick County Circuit Court judge on Wednesday sealed a status hearing for one of the two teens charged in the Sept. 20 fatal assault at The Great Frederick Fair.
Almost immediately after the case regarding the 16-year-old was called at 10:30 a.m., Stacey Steinmetz, an attorney for the boy, asked Judge Julie Stevenson Solt to close the courtroom to the public, citing what she called “confidential” information that she believed would be discussed in the hearing.
The Frederick News-Post objected to closing the hearing, but Solt agreed with Steinmetz, citing both Title 11 of the Maryland Rules of Court regarding juvenile cases as well as precedent set in Baltimore Sun Co. v. State in the Maryland Court of Appeals dating back to 1995.
In that case, the court upheld that “courts may close juvenile proceedings to the public in instances where closure would be impermissible in other court proceedings,” and that courts “may exclude the general public from a hearing, and admit only those persons having a direct interest in the proceeding and their representatives,” according to the case cited by Solt.
Both the 16-year-old and his co-defendant, his 15-year-old brother, were charged shortly after 59-year-old Mount Airy resident John Weed died from injuries he suffered in what sheriff’s deputies described as an unprovoked assault on the midway of the fairgrounds. Citing footage of the assault as well as interviews with witnesses, prosecutors say the 16-year-old approached Weed and asked him for a dollar at 5:36 p.m. Sept. 20, then punched Weed in the back of the head, starting the assault, authorities have said.
The 15-year-old, who deputies and prosecutors said delivered the final blow in the assault, was charged 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, authorities have said.
The brothers have remained in a juvenile detention center since the day of the assault and last appeared before Solt on Nov. 19. At that time, Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Wilt indicated that a waiver hearing to determine whether the teens’ cases will be heard in juvenile or adult court would likely not proceed until at least Wednesday’s hearing.
The 15-year-old appeared before Solt earlier Wednesday alongside his attorney, John Maclean, who moved to waive the teen’s right to have a detention hearing once every two weeks. Instead, Maclean opted to postpone the 15-year-old’s next hearing for roughly 30 days in order to give him enough time to schedule a convenient date for the defense’s expert witnesses to be present for a detention hearing.
Solt granted Maclean’s motion, preliminarily postponing the teen’s next appearance until Jan. 15.