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Boys sentenced for roles in killing of Monae Turnage

Justice System

The young boys involved in the shooting death of Monae Turnage, whose body they hid under trash bags in an East Baltimore alley, were sentenced in juvenile court Wednesday.

The 13-year-old who said he pulled the trigger will be committed indefinitely to a treatment facility; the 12-year-old who helped him move the body will be monitored by the Department of Juvenile Services while living with a relative in Harford County.

But the family of Monae — the bubbly 13-year-old who wanted to be a pediatrician — sat outside the downtown Juvenile Justice Center after the hearing, stunned at the outcome. The juvenile system is geared toward rehabilitation over punishment, and they felt the punishment didn't go far enough.

"It seems like they got patted on the back and got away with it," said Monae's mother, Edith Turnage.

In adopting the recommendations from prosecutors, Circuit Judge Robert Kershaw, the judge in charge of the court's juvenile division , referred to the boys as "otherwise good people who did an unfortunate and tragic" thing. That drew groans from Monae's relatives in the courtroom.

But he continued by calling the boys' conduct, which included hiding her body and initially lying to investigators, "an absolutely inexplicable level of horror."

The Baltimore Sun generally does not name suspects charged as juveniles. Defense attorneys for the boys have declined to comment.

Monae had left her home in the Darley Park neighborhood on March 4 to go roller-skating but ended up at the home of two friends. Prosecutors said one of the boys took a rifle from underneath a bed, and it accidentally discharged, striking Monae in the chest.

At an earlier court hearing, prosecutors said that she was still alive when her body was moved, but on Wednesday they said that the medical examiner's office found that she had been killed instantly.

Unresolved are investigations of three adults connected to the case. Martinez Armstrong, a 21-year-old relative of one of the boys, has been charged with reckless endangerment; police allege the rifle belonged to him and was left where the boys could find it.

John A. Ward, a city police officer, was suspended after the weapon was found in his personal vehicle. And DNA from the mother of one of the boys was found on Monae's body, her attorney confirmed this month.

Officials have declined to comment on the status of those investigations.

jfenton@baltsun.com

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