Teen charged as adult with allegedly killing his mother with hammer

In what he called a "very tragic situation," a Harford County District Court judge continued to hold without bail a 16-year-old C. Milton Wright High School student who allegedly beat his mother to death with a hammer in their Bel Air home last week.

Andrew Zaragoza was charged Saturday as an adult with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure in connection with the July 20 death of Donna Zaragoza, 56, in their home in the 1000 block of Jeanett Way in Bel Air, according to a news release posted by the Sheriff's Office on Facebook.

Andrew Zaragoza appeared via closed-circuit television from the Harford County Detention Center, where he has been held since Saturday, for a bail review Monday afternoon before Judge David Carey.

Public defender Tim Bahr told Carey that Andrew Zaragoza, who turned 16 in January, has no prior record and no contact with the criminal justice system and had suffered abuse, as well as living around people who abused drugs.

He finished 10th grade at C. Milton Wright, where he played football as a freshman, Barhr said.

"He is a victim of abuse throughout his life, mental abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse," Bahr said.

He's been around drugs for much of his life, Bahr added, saying the teenager's fahter his father and uncle died of drug overdoses in 2016.

Bahr also allged that the teen's mother was taking pills before she allegedly struck him the morning he allegedly killed her.

Donna Zaragoza was found dead around 6:30 a.m. July 20 in a second-floor bedroom, allegedly beaten with a hammer by her son, Maj. William Davis, commander of the police operations bureau for the sheriff's office, said last week.

Andrew Zaragoza was behind the door of another bedroom and deputies convinced him to come out. He was suffering from multiple self-inflicted stab wounds, Davis said, and was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital in Baltimore with non-life-threatening injuries.

Sheriff's deputies has been called to the home numerous times in the past before Thursday, mainly for instances of drug abuse, mental health and domestic issues, as well as animal complaints and medical emergencies, Davis said.

When considering Andrew Zaragoza's bail, Carey was concerned about where he would go if he were released from the Harford County Detention Center.

Bahr, however, said the teen's next of kin was being determined.

"There's no place for him to go now, number one," Assistant State's Attorney Mark Meehan said. "He's 16. If you read the statement of charges, clearly the most important thing is he's a risk to himself, as well as a risk to the community given the allegations."

Meehan agreed the detention center is not the best place for Andrew Zaragoza, given his age. The prosecutor said he has been talking with the Department of Juvenile Services to try and get him to Spring Grove or Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center.

"This is a very tragic situation. He's a 16-year-old who we don't know where he'd go or who he's be released to," Carey said. "I'm concerned about his safety and that of others, so I'm holding him without bond."

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