Archive for Wednesday, April 25, 2001

11-year-old enters plea in burglary

April 25, 2001

An 11-year-old McLouth boy pled guilty Monday to charges of arson and burglary.

The charges stem from an Easter break-in at McLouth Elementary School.

Vic Braden, Jefferson County assistant attorney, said the youth, who has been held at the Shawnee County Juvenile Detention Facility, will remain there until his May 14 sentencing.

"There's been a recommendation by the state and the child, through his attorney, that said the sentencing will be through the custody of the Juvenile Justice Authority with placement outside of his home," Braden said.

Jeff Herrig, Jefferson County undersheriff, said the 11-year-old boy and two other children, ages 8 and 9, are believed to have entered the school about 11 a.m. April 15.

"The three were brought in later Sunday afternoon for breaking into the school and trying to set the school on fire with some type of gasoline," Herrig said. "They had a hard time trying to get it lit."

The 11-year-old had been charged in Jefferson County District Court on felony counts of arson, burglary, criminal damage to property, conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to commit arson.

Braden said criminal charges can not be filed against children under the age of 10. And so the younger children are being handled through the child in need of care services, Braden said.

The hearings and court records are closed to the public for the younger youths, as are the hearings for the older youth. However, Braden said the records of the older youth are open to the public.

"That's usually not the case," Braden said.

He explained that a motive in opening the records may have been to reduce speculation and rumors.

Dennis Reiling, the presiding judge, did not say why he ordered the 11-year-old's court record to remain open.

"I'm just not free to comment either way," Reiling said.

Herrig said sheriffs officers had been called to the school at about 1 p.m., Easter Sunday after the building's fire alarm sounded. He speculated that the children had been in the building for about two hours.

"They did a lot of damage to the building and school property," Herrig said. "The value ended up being over a couple thousand dollars."

Jean Rush, McLouth school superintendent, said the office of the elementary school secretary was broken into, as well as two classrooms, which were vandalized. The youths had also attempted to start a fire in a hallway, she said.

"We had damage to the building, broken windows, damage to equipment and things on the wall were torn down," Rush said.

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