The younger of two teenagers found responsible for the death of a 14-year-old boy in Crofton will be placed on probation next week after having spent about 21 months in a juvenile facility, an Anne Arundel County judge ordered Thursday.
The ruling closes a chapter in a case that highlighted the issue of suburban youth gang violence, but it left the victim's parents sharply criticizing the outcome.
"Two years for killing somebody? That's a joke," said Jennifer Adkins, whose son, Christopher Jones, was killed over Memorial Day weekend in 2009. The youngster was punched while riding his bicycle a few hundred yards from her home.
Though not a member of any gang, Christopher was caught up in a dispute between The New Threat and East Side Diamonds. His death led to a retaliatory firebombing against the wrong person, efforts to build a community center and changes in state law to foster communication between police and schools about students.
On Thursday, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge J. Michael Wachs ordered the 17-year-old youth, who has been in a juvenile center in Michigan for rehabilitation, placed on probation until he is 21. He is to return Wednesday to the home of his father, stepmother and 25-year-old brother.
The youth, tried as a juvenile, will be monitored under the state's Violence Prevention Initiative, reserved for people who need heightened scrutiny and supervision. His whereabouts will be monitored with a GPS ankle bracelet, and he can rarely leave home.
The youth's parents appeared relieved after the hearing. The teen, speaking to the court by telephone, said he wants to study criminal justice in college or play basketball, and help other youths.
"The best way to treat this is by continuing therapeutic services and keeping him under strict supervision, which is what Judge Wachs did here," Assistant Public Defender Kimber Watts, the teen's lawyer, said after the hearing. "In doing this, the court also best protects the public safety."
Last month, the same judge ordered a second teenager found responsible in Christopher Jones' death released to the custody of his mother after he had spent 18 months in a Pennsylvania juvenile facility.