Circuit Court trial ordered for 15-year-old in bar crash


The 15-year-old city youth accused of driving the car that crashed into a Carney tavern last month will be tried in Baltimore County Circuit Court and face stiffer penalties than in the juvenile system.

Phillip Sample, charged as the driver in the Aug. 14 crash at the Firehouse Tavern, will be tried in county Circuit Court after a ruling yesterday by Chief Circuit Judge Edward A. DeWaters Jr.

DeWaters transferred Sample's case to Circuit Court because the boy had previously been charged with a driving violation and had participated in a treatment program for juvenile offenders in Baltimore.

"This is not the first time that the juvenile justice system has had contact with this young man," DeWaters said.

Sample took part in a city program for youth offenders in 1996 after he was charged with a misdemeanor theft, prosecutors said.

No trial date has been set.

Sample was charged after a stolen Subaru Outback crashed through a wall of the tavern in the 2800 block of E. Joppa Road. The crash injured Sample, two other youths who police said were passengers in the car and 16 bar patrons and employees.

Police said that the car had been stolen the night before in Millersville in Anne Arundel County and at the time of the crash was speeding away from a Towson roller rink after gunshots were fired there. The car was traveling at an estimated 115 mph when it crashed into the bar, smashing a 19-foot hole in the side of the tavern and creating a panic, prosecutors said.

"There was smoke, people were screaming, panicking and bleeding," Deputy State's Attorney Howard B. Merker told DeWaters yesterday.

Merker argued that the crash could have killed someone.

"Juveniles have to be held accountable for their actions," he said.

But Marc Zayon, Sample's lawyer, argued that the youth never intended to hurt anyone and that a state Juvenile Services investigator recommended the case remain in the juvenile system.

Most of Sample's six previous criminal charges - which include breaking and entering, theft and a drug distribution charge - were filed in 1996, when he was 11 years old, and were dismissed by city prosecutors, Zayon said.

"He's never been found delinquent of anything. He's never been to any of the training schools," Zayon said.

Sample is charged with auto theft, unauthorized use of a vehicle, several traffic violations and 17 counts of second-degree assault.

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