Teens drive to town to throw rocks at vehicles
BRATTLEBORO >> Two local teens admitted to driving into town from Dover with the sole purpose of throwing rocks at vehicles
A 17-year-old juvenile and Morrow Bernard, 19, both of Wilmington admitted to collectively throwing about 20 to 25 rocks from their moving vehicle at other passing and parked vehicles on Route 9 on March 17 and 18, according to an affidavit. Several complainants reported that their vehicles had been struck by an object and were damaged as a result. Some complainants suffered minor injuries, one receiving shards of glass in his eyes as a result of the broken windshield and another with minor cuts to her face near the nose.
During the investigation, when Detective Ryan Washburn of the Brattleboro Police Department asked the juvenile if he saw any damage as a result of the rock throwing, he responded he heard what sounded like breaking glass.
"He (Morrow) probably saw it happen because he was laughing the whole time," the 17 year old told Washburn according to the affidavit.
The two were later charged with a number of counts including unlawful mischief and reckless endangerment.
According to the juvenile's statement in the affidavit, the largest rock thrown was about the size of a baseball. On the evening of March 17 they drove into Brattleboro "with no other purpose other than to throw rocks at vehicles." The court documents state that the 17 year old and Bernard spent approximately two hours throwing the rocks at vehicles on March 17 and the two targeted "big trucks." However the two young men damaged a couple of cars, including one with a newborn riding in the vehicle at the time.
"We didn't really, like, realize what we were doing, we made a really bad choice," he told Washburn according to affidavit.
About four vehicles were reported being damaged as a result of the rock throwing.
On Sept. 6, the juvenlie's defense attorney, Dan Davis requested that his client's case be moved to juvenile court. Davis further told the Reformer his reasoning behind this motion was "self explanatory" as there are certain "benefits" one receives in juvenile court that the defendant would not otherwise have in adult court.
"In making a decision on such a motion the court should consider the defendant's age, maturity, and home situation, the seriousness of the offenses charged, and the likelihood that the protection of the public and the rehabilitation of the defendant will be accomplished if a transfer is ordered," Davis wrote in the motion to transfer to juvenile court document.
Throughout the motion, Davis highlighted his client's willingness to accept responsibility for his actions — a supportive family, clean prior record, full-time enrollment in school and "extraordinary athletic talent."
The court denied this motion because the length of time before the defendant's 18th birthday "is so short that even obtaining an adjudication on the merits, let alone adjudication, disposition, and imposition of appropriate probation orders could not likely be achieved in the family division before that date."
The court further noted that the number and seriousness of the alleged offenses placed people in "significant" danger of physical injury, which is why the court also denied transfer of Davis' client to juvenile court. However, Windham County Superior Court Judge Katherine Hayes did support the transport of the cases to the family division for youthful offender status.
In addition, at the end of August, the Head of School at Mount Snow Academy, Todd Ormiston, wrote a letter to the court describing his positive relationship with the teen, who attended the school. Ormiston noted that toward the end of the winter the 17 year old "began losing focus of his goals," but that other than his failure to remain focused on school and skiing, "there were no significant disciplinary issues."
"When I first heard about the situation (he) was in, I was shocked that such a calm and respectful young man would get tangled up into something dangerous and destructive," Ormiston stated in his letter to the court. "It was outside of the character (he) had demonstrated so many times at school."
He further stated that the young man is a "good person who made a very bad choice," and hopes that whatever consequences (he) faces that it will help him make good choices in the future, "rather than take away the opportunity for a talented young man to become a contributing citizen to our society."
Maddi Shaw can be reached at 802-254-2311 ext 275
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