An Alexandria juvenile court judge denied a motion to reconsider the sentence of a juvenile who pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of 16-year-old Schuyler Jones.
Joseph MacCarthy filed the motion asking the court to reconsider a sentence that placed his 17-year-old client under the supervision of the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, potentially until his 21st birthday. Instead, MacCarthy asked for a six-month stay in the Alexandria Detention Center.
“The Department of Juvenile Justice has had an opportunity to assess this child and he has scored extremely high on all of the tests,” MacCarthy said last week at a hearing on his motion. “He is reading at a graduate school level and scored 35 out of 35 in following directions and getting along with others in the cottage setting where he was living during the assessment…
“Placing him at Natural Bridge would be like putting a square peg in a round hole…This is not the usual child who is placed in one of the juvenile facilities…It would be far better for him to be here where he could receive the educational support of personnel from the school he attended until his incarceration on March 26 and where he could receive the support of tutors so that he could continue in the advanced classes he was taking at school,” MacCarthy said.
MacCarthy further emphasized the role of the juvenile court. “This court must balance punishment and remediation,” he said. “We are not asking that there be no punishment…on the contrary. However, we are asking that this child not be further damaged by denying him the opportunity to have an appropriate education…”
THIS JUVENILE is one of three persons charged in the death of Schuyler Jones who was killed at Market Square in Old Town on Sept. 13, 2003. The two other two defendants pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Circuit Court and received the same sentence as this defendant received in juvenile court. Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney S. Randolph Sengel opposed MacCarthy’s motion for reconsideration.
“I think it is important for the court to refocus on the victim here,” Sengel said. “The defendant’s inconvenience pales in comparison to Schuyler’s. A child is dead because of a chain of events put into motion by this defendant. Regarding a sentence of six months at the Alexandria Detention Center at its most fundamental level, this is not justice," said Sengel.
“If we give a determinate sentence of six months, it eliminates the discretionary component of the decision of March 26, and does not strike a balance between the rights of the victim and those of the defendant. Also, anger management is a required component of the defendant’s treatment plan and that is not available at the Detention Center. Rather than worrying about whether the defendant passes algebra II or U. S. history, we should be more concerned about what else he has learned…”
Retired judge Joseph L. Peters agreed with Sengel saying, “The defendant pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and received an appropriate sentence from this court,” he said. “I see no reason to reconsider that decision, so the motion is denied.”
The juvenile will remain in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice until such time as the director deems it appropriate to release him.