A 16-year-old Mount Airy youth who is charged with driving a stolen car in which three teen-agers died in a crash on Liberty Road is to be tried as an adult in the case.
After a 90-minute closed hearing yesterday, Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold ordered Donny Eugene Simms' case transferred from the juvenile system to Carroll District Court.
The South Carroll High School student faces three charges of automobile manslaughter, plus charges of felony theft, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated and speeding. If he is convicted, he could be sent to state prison for more than 45 years.
After the hearing, the Simms youth was taken before District Court Commissioner Heather B. Bader, who freed him pending a Dec. 2 trial.
William T. Wood, the Rockville attorney who represents the youth, said that he is not greatly troubled that his client is to be tried as an adult. "There are still people within the system who will protect him." Mr. Wood said.
Eight teen-agers -- a brother and a sister, cousins and best friends -- were in the car when it crashed June 6 near a bridge on Liberty Road near Liberty Reservoir. Six were thrown onto the two-lane road as the east-bound car went out of control and flipped onto its roof.
Dead at the scene were 15-year-old best friends Dink Diggs of Mount Airy and Christopher Norris of Marriottsville, and Donny Simm's sister, Donna, also 15. Autopsies determined that the three had died of multiple head and neck injuries, and that the Norris youth had been drinking.
A total of three youths were charged in connection with the accident, but Donny Simms is the only one whose case is going to trial.
Attorneys and court officials said that Anthony Antonio Liason and Danny Barnes, both of Gaithersburg, were placed on probation earlier this month by a juvenile court master and were ordered to perform community service. Each had been charged with felony auto theft and alcohol possession.
Two survivors of the crash told The Sun that the Simms youth was driving a stolen Toyota Corolla at speeds up to 110 mph when it crashed. Police records confirm their account.
Mr. Wood said that members of the victims' families testified yesterday on behalf of Donny Simms and asked the judge to keep the case out of adult court. About two dozen of Donny's friends, relatives and supporters attended the hearing.
Mr. Wood and Assistant State's Attorney Erin Danz said the case was transferred because of the seriousness of the accident and the need to deter other teen-agers from drinking and driving. "We cannot punish Donny anymore than he has already been punished, and we're not looking for further punishment or retribution," Ms. Danz said. "But we must send a message."
Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman said yesterday that, "because this case should come to trial during the school year, we can inculcate the students with the lessons about drinking and driving. They need to see that the traumatic effect on the families and others involved in the accident will last for their entire lives."