Two Fairfax County teenagers will spend the next four years in a Virginia juvenile detention center and an additional 10 years on probation for killing 16-year-old Schuyler Jones of Alexandria.
Brian Adem, 16, and Patrick Casey, 17, sat quietly as Alexandria Circuit Court Judge Donald Haddock delivered the sentence Tuesday.
“I do not find that either of these young men is appropriate for treatment in a private facility,” Haddock said. “I find that the interests of the juveniles and the interest of the greater community will be best served by placing them under the supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice for a determinate sentence until their 21st birthdays.
"I am sentencing them to five years in prison, which will be suspended for 10 years, that time to be served on adult probation after their 21st birthdays and on juvenile probation until their 21st birthdays should they be released from the juvenile facility prior to their 21st birthdays.”
Before issuing his ruling, Judge Haddock and a packed courtroom listened to evidence from attorneys for both defendants and from Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel.
“We must not only consider the needs of these two defendants but also look at the needs of Schuyler Jones’ family and his many friends who were impacted by his death,” Sengel said.
“This case is about three teenagers. They actually had many things in common. All three teenagers were offered an education in the public school systems in Alexandria and in Fairfax County and in similar schools. All three come from supportive families. All three had many friends. But that’s where the similarities end. Schuyler Jones always tried to make the right choices. He chose not to use drugs or alcohol. He tried to help his friends make the right choices. On Sept. 13, he chose not to fight," Sengel told the court.
“Brian Adem and Patrick Casey made very different choices. They chose to use alcohol and drugs, beginning around the age of 13. They chose to become involved in criminal activity. And they chose to attack Schuyler, a young man who they had never met. I do not believe that they intended to kill Schuyler but they intended to cause him harm."
Sengel added, "We must find a balance of giving these young men the treatment that they need and sending a message to them and to the community that this was not just about boys being boys or just about normal teenage behavior. This was not normal teenage behavior.”
Chris Leibig, Patrick Casey’s attorney, presented evidence of a young man with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. Patrick’s father, with tears in his eyes, spoke of Patrick’s illnesses as a child. “We began to see a change in his behavior in eighth grade,” Daniel Casey said. “At one point, in ninth grade, Patrick couldn’t even get out of bed. That’s when we took him to see someone who put him on medication for depression.”
Patrick’s father, his mother and a psychiatrist, painted a picture of a young man who struggled with depression throughout ninth and tenth grade. “I took a leave of absence from my job as a teacher last year just to work with Patrick,” said Cynthia Casey, Patrick’s mother. “I tried home schooling, but about three days into that, I realized that Patrick couldn’t concentrate.”
SHE ALLOWED HER son to return to West Potomac High School where he returned to his pattern of behavior, skipping school and spending time with his friends on the street. The Caseys placed Patrick in a wilderness-type program in Utah and were attempting to place him at Graden Manor, a residential treatment program in Leesburg, when Schuyler was killed.
“He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in March, 2003, and we had scheduled him to go to Graden Manor,” said Casey.
Patrick’s involvement in court and a court date precluded his going in early August. “He told us that he wanted to go directly from detention to Graden Manor because he knew if he came home, he wouldn’t go,” Cynthia Casey said.
After his court date on Aug. 6, 2003, Patrick came home, where he remained for about a week. “Then he left home and we really didn’t see him until Sept. 14,” Cynthia Casey said. “We told the police where he was and we asked them to pick him up on the felony warrant we had gotten for his taking our car without permission. If the Fairfax County police had picked him up, Schuyler might still be alive.”
Nina Ginsberg, the attorney for Brian Adem, painted a similar picture of a young man who had struggled in school, had a difficult family situation and who was an alcoholic.
“As a single parent, his mother did the best she could,” Ginsberg said. “But it is not Brian’s fault that he was probably an alcoholic before he took that first drink. He needs treatment and, as much as we would like it to be different, the Department of Juvenile Justice does not provide adequate treatment or adequate schooling. Its facilities are overcrowded and the department is understaffed.”
Brian’s parents were divorced when he was four years old. “But I was really a single parent from the time Brian was two,” said Kathleen Ball, Brian’s mother. “During his early years, Brian and his younger brother and I spent a lot of time together.”
BALL NOTICED a change in her son when he was in kindergarten. “About two weeks after he started kindergarten, he was asked to draw a picture of his family,” she said. “That’s when he realized that we were different and that he didn’t have a father in the house like many of his friends.”
Brian began drinking at age 13 and using marijuana. His grades began to fall in middle school. In ninth grade, he was convicted of trespassing and of breaking and entering. In tenth grade, he was charged with assault and battery. He was court ordered to attend substance abuse treatment and anger management programs by the Fairfax County Juvenile Court. He failed to meet the conditions of his probation on more than one occasion. In the presentence report, his probation officer characterized him as “impossible” to supervise.
Leibig spoke about the impact of the past six months on his client. “Patrick has accepted responsibility for his actions since he learned of Schuyler’s death,” he said. “Patrick said that if he had not hit Schuyler, Schuyler would be alive today. Patrick gets it.”
Ginsberg made the same representation about Brian. “He understands that he made a bad decision that had unbelievable consequences,” she said. “He is remorseful.”
William Creighton, the probation officer who was assigned to conduct the presentence investigation, expressed his own opinion.
“I believe that Patrick is truly remorseful for what he did,” Creighton said. “I believe that Brian is beginning to accept responsibility but is having a hard getting his head completely around this.”
Tracy Hallingsworth, Schuyler’s mother, spoke of the impact of her son’s death on the family. “Any impact that this had on us is vastly outweighed by the impact on Schuyler,” Hallingsworth said. “All I can really say, is that day by day, minute by minute, we keep going. But many times a day, both my husband and I are overwhelmed by the thought that Schuyler is dead.
"We worry about what he felt at the moment that he was hit, whether he knew or not that he was having trouble breathing; that his heart was racing. Was he scared? We’re very troubled that he doesn’t get to grow up. He showed a great deal of promise and that promise is going to go completely unfulfilled and that is truly a waste…”
The third defendant in this case will be sentenced in juvenile court in Alexandria on March 26.