A 17-year-old Westminster youth charged as an adult with distributing cocaine on Center Street was sentenced yesterday to 18 months at the Carroll County Detention Center.
As part of a plea agreement, Nathaniel Maurice Costley agreed to plead guilty to one count of distributing cocaine and one count of malicious destruction of property.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop other drug charges, and arson and battery counts. Also, Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. agreed to a maximum 18-month sentence for Costley.
The case marked the second time Costley had been charged as an adult in Carroll County. At 14, the youth faced adult charges stemming from a knife fight in 1992. In March 1993, the case was remanded to county juvenile court.
"He was put in the position of needing to be a man at the age of 12 or 13," said his attorney, Carroll County Public Defender Barbara Kreinar, in an impassioned plea for leniency.
"But he didn't have the knowledge or experience to deal with that," Mrs. Kreinar said. "In terms of smarts, I know he could do it all. If he'd have had a full family with parents who didn't have their own demons to fight, there's no doubt he'd be on his way to college."
Costley's mother, Valerie Saunders, acknowledged in court yesterday that she once had a drug addiction problem and had been involved in the Carroll County court system because of it.
"If I've passed on some of my demons to Nat, I'm sorry," Ms. Saunders said yesterday, noting that she has overcome her addiction. "I can't do anything to change that now. You've got to start making the right decisions."
Judge Beck sentenced Costley to three years yesterday, suspending all but 18 months, to be served at the Carroll County Detention Center. The judge also ordered him to pay $150 in public defender's fees and court costs.
In addition, Judge Beck -- who urged the youth to seek treatment for his drug problem -- suspended a $500 fine in the destruction of property case. On the malicious destruction charges, Judge Beck sentenced Costley to 30 days, which are to be served concurrently with his drug sentence.
The judge also gave Costley credit for 129 days served in the detention center and at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore.
"If I ascertain that you are doing well and living up to your responsibilities in a year's time, I will consider a modification of your sentence and let you out earlier than the entire 18 months," Judge Beck said.
"But the ball is in your court," he said. "You'll have to earn this."
Costley pleaded guilty to a charge stemming from an incident on Oct. 15 in which he was videotaped selling .2 grams of cocaine to an informant for $80, prosecutors said.
The youth was charged with malicious destruction after violently slamming a storm door several times on Nov. 8, breaking a $30 window in the door.