Both teens charged in the fatal assault of a man at The Great Frederick Fair in September will remain in juvenile detention as the decision over whether they will be tried as adults continues, a judge ruled Tuesday.
The teens, brothers aged 15 and 16, appeared at a hearing before Frederick County Circuit Judge Julie Stevenson Solt. Assistant State’s Attorney Laura Wilt indicated that the waiver hearing that will determine which court the teens’ cases are heard in may not even take place before the teens’ next scheduled hearing on Dec. 18.
Wilt also argued that the teens should remain in custody for the duration of the investigation, citing the serious and violent crimes with which they are charged.
Both teens have remained in juvenile detention since Sept. 20, when Frederick County sheriff’s deputies responded to an assault on the midway of the fairgrounds at 5:36 p.m. and found 59-year-old Mount Airy resident John Weed suffering from serious injuries. Weed was flown to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore for treatment, but he died from his injuries the following day, according to previous stories published in The Frederick News-Post.
The 15-year-old, who sheriff’s deputies said delivered the final blow in the assault, has since been charged with manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of second-degree assault.
His 16-year-old brother was charged with two counts of second-degree assault, one for punching Weed in the back of the head and another for spitting on him after he fell to the ground, authorities said.
Assistant Public Defender John Maclean, who is representing the 15-year-old, did not object to his client remaining in juvenile detention, putting forward only a motion to dismiss one of the counts of second-degree assault, arguing that he believes his client was being charged with two offenses for the same crime.
Stacey Steinmetz, who represented the 16-year-old, initially asked Solt to close the courtroom to the public, citing her client’s age and concerns that media coverage of the case could complicate the selection of a jury should the case proceed to trial, as well as the fact that her client faces only two misdemeanor assault counts.
Wilt countered that while the judge could close the court at her discretion in such cases, the presumption in Maryland is that court cases remain open to the public and that attorneys frequently deal with media coverage when selecting juries for cases in adult court. Wilt also reminded Solt that, while the second-degree assault charges filed against the 16-year-old were technically misdemeanors, the charges were serious nevertheless.
“But for this defendant’s actions, that final blow might never have happened,” Wilt said. “... and you can see his actions after the fact, spitting [on Weed], are reprehensible.”
Solt ultimately ruled to keep the case open to the public and, a short time later, to continue holding the 16-year-old in juvenile detention, saying she was still “very concerned for all the circumstances involved” in the assault.
Based on the discussions in court Tuesday morning, a future hearing set to take place Dec. 18 will remain in place for the 15-year-old, with the understanding that that date could be postponed yet again. Another hearing will be scheduled to take place before the Dec. 18 hearing to determine the status of the case, but an exact date for that hearing was not set as of Tuesday morning.
In the 16-year-old’s case, Solt set a status hearing for Dec. 3.