The second of two teen brothers charged after a man died at the Great Frederick Fair last year was placed on probation Wednesday and ordered to complete an anger management program, among other commitments.
The older of the brothers, who was 16 years old at the time of the Sept. 20 assault, was initially charged with two counts of second-degree assault related to the attack that killed 59-year-old Mount Airy resident John Marvin Weed.
Of those charges, one count was for the teen reportedly spitting on Weed after he had fallen to the ground, which was the charge the teen pleaded guilty to July 8 during a hearing in Frederick County Circuit Court. The second assault charge was dropped per a plea agreement reached between prosecutors and Stacey Steinmetz, an attorney representing the teen.
A reporter for The Frederick News-Post was asked to leave the courtroom Wednesday after Steinmetz asked that hearing be closed to the public. Judge Julie Stevenson Solt agreed, saying that much about the case that would be discussed, especially regarding the teen's past and other details, would be too sensitive to be shared in open court.
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors claim that the younger brother, who was 15 at the time of the assault, approached Weed on the midway of the fairgrounds at about 5:30 p.m. Sept. 20 and asked him for a dollar, according to stories posted previously by The Frederick News-Post. After a brief exchange of words, the 15-year-old punched Weed, igniting a scuffle that was soon joined by the 16-year-old.
Weed was punched repeatedly in the head during the assault with the 15-year-old landing the final blow that left the Mount Airy resident unresponsive on the ground, according to previous stories.
Solt ultimately ordered the older teen be placed on probation and that he complete an anger management program, among other conditions, according to a press release issued after Wednesday's hearing by the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office. The juvenile court maintains jurisdiction over a case until the the case is closed or until the respondent ages out of juvenile court, meaning the maximum term of probation the teen could serve in this case would be until he reaches 21, according to Steinmetz.
Solt scheduled a follow-up disposition hearing for sometime in the fall to determine whether the teen has complied with the terms of his probation, the release states. If the teen is found non-compliant, the judge may consider removing him from the community for placement in a juvenile facility.
While Steinmetz said she still does not agree with the version of events put forth by prosecutors, she was satisfied with the overall outcome of Wednesday's disposition hearing.
"I think that the judge ruled fairly and with compassion for all the parties involved ... we want to move forward, I think justice succeeded in this matter and I express sympathy to the family of Mr. Weed," Steinmetz said when reached for comment following the hearing. "All along my client and his family have expressed sympathy and regret. I think [both families] have acted with compassion towards one another."
Prosecutors had argued in favor of Solt ordering the teen be placed in a committed juvenile treatment facility rather than allowing the teen to fulfill his rehabilitation in the community, according to State's Attorney Charlie Smith, who said he was nevertheless not surprised by Solt's decision.
Smith did, however, note the fact that Solt had set a follow-up disposition hearing at a later date.
"I think what that tells you is there is some concern about this young man’s ability to complete rehabilitation programs out in the community," Smith said when reached for comment after the hearing.
Prosecutors had argued from the outset of the case that both teens should be tried as adults, filing motions to move each case to adult court. In the end the court denied both motions, keeping the teens in juvenile court, which has different priorities from the adult system.
"It’s tough to not want some measure of punishment for this young man, but in the juvenile system that’s certainly not the ultimate goal; it’s rehabilitation," Smith said.
Neither Christopher Quasebarth, an attorney representing the Weed family, nor Lori Hawkins, Weed's sister — who was present in court Wednesday — returned email requests seeking comment in time for publication, but Smith said the family was involved in every step of the process in both cases and was well aware of both the prosecution's arguments as well as the potential outcomes of each case.
The younger teen, who was initially charged with manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault, pleaded guilty to the single count of manslaughter during a hearing April 29. At a disposition hearing May 15, the 15-year-old was ordered to remain in a juvenile detention facility to complete a behavioral modification program, previous stories indicate.