The victim is a teenager, the defendants are teenagers and the witnesses are teenagers. In Alexandria on Tuesday, families and friends of all involved came together in Judge Stephen Rideout’s courtroom to listen to evidence in a probable cause hearing that will determine whether those teenage defendants will stand trial for second-degree murder in Circuit Court as adults.
The three defendants are accused of second-degree murder in the death of 16-year-old Schuyler Jones, a T.C. Williams High School student. The medical examiner, Carolyn Revercomb, testified that Schuyler died from a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, caused by blunt force trauma to his head.
“Based on my experience and on the literature, the blunt force trauma that caused the subarachnoid hemorrhage was not caused by a fall,” Revercomb testified. “The blow to the back of the head was likely the one that caused the hemorrhage, although there was bruising to the front of the skull.”
The defendants were all present. The 17-year-old Alexandria defendant, who attends Bishop Ireton High School, is accused of planning and arranging for the altercation that led to Schuyler’s death.
“In reality, evidence will show that this young child did nothing more than point Schuyler out to the other defendants,” said Joseph McCarthy, who represents the teen.
The other two defendants are 16 and attended West Potomac High School. One of them appeared in court in a jail jump suit. He is accused of striking Schuyler three times: the initial blow in the altercation, a subsequent blow after Schuyler held up his hands and said that he didn’t want to fight, and a third blow after Schuyler had fallen to the ground.
“He made a bad decision,” said Chris Leibig, the attorney who is representing this defendant. “But he didn’t think that Schuyler was going to die and didn’t know that he had died until the next morning. When he realized what happened, he was devastated. He didn’t plan for this to happen. It was an impulse.”
THE THIRD DEFENDANT, who appeared in a T-shirt, hit Schuyler only once, in the back of the head, according to testimony. “He came upon a scene that indicated to him that his friend was in danger, and he did a foolish thing,” said Nina Ginzberg, the attorney who represents this defendant. “But he didn’t know anything about prior problems between the other defendant and Schuyler Jones. He was merely defending his friend.”
Alexandria’s Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel presented evidence that showed prior altercations between the 17-year-old defendant and Schuyler, including a videotaped fight between the pair about one year ago.
“The video shows that this defendant accosted Schuyler and started a fight, about a year ago,” Sengel said. “This is the reason that the incident that occurred on Sept. 13 at Market Square happened. This defendant wanted to get revenge for what Schuyler Jones had done to him earlier.”
WITNESSES TESTIFIED that a friend called the 17-year-old defendant’s house and told him that Schuyler and his friends were at Market Square. Witnesses also testified that the 17-year-old defendant and his friends were drinking and/or using marijuana at his home in Alexandria before they went to Market Square to encounter Schuyler and his friends.
Witnesses testified that calls were made to the phone of a West Potomac High School student who brought the 16-year-old defendants to Market Square to “get the back” of the 17-year-old defendant.
Rideout heard Sengel’s case but allowed defense attorneys two additional weeks to subpoena witnesses and prepare arguments. Those attorneys will present their cases on Nov. 4.