From Near Coma to Defendant

From Near Coma to Defendant

Assault victim goes from life-support in January to defendant in May machete incident.

The 17-year-old victim of a January assault on Elden Street pleaded guilty last week to carrying a machete in a separate incident in May.

Judge Teena D. Grodner accepted his plea of guilty in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court on June 22 to carrying a concealed weapon in May and a felony count of destruction of property for stealing items from a construction van, including a stereo, air compressor and generator in April. He also pleaded "no contest" to violation of his probation.

The 17-year-old was observed by various witnesses wielding a machete during the incident on May 27, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Casey Lingan. When Herndon police officers approached him, he gave a false name and false address. After he was confronted by a detective who knew him, the 17-year-old admitted he had a machete concealed in his pants, according to Lingan. He said he displayed the machete during an altercation when others threatened him and his friends with a BB-gun.

No one was hurt during the altercation on May 27, according to court testimony and police reports.

Sentencing is scheduled later this summer. One part of a possible sentence, according to Lingan, is to place him in a Boys Probation House after his release from the Juvenile Detention Center where he can receive additional monitoring, supervision and treatment for a longer period of time.

Unless charged as adults, juvenile defendants are not usually identified.

<b>SEVEN DAYS EARLIER,</b> the 17-year-old who is detained at the Fairfax County Juvenile Detention Center, pleaded no contest for possession of alcohol on June 15.

Detectives said they broke up a group of 30 Hispanic teenagers and young adults drinking and flashing gang signs, according to John Murray, assistant commonwealth's attorney during the June 15 hearing.

"You can't continue to do things like this," Judge Jane P. Delbridge said to the 17-year-old. "You're just not taking care of yourself."

Numerous past charges against the 17-year-old were alluded to in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court that day, including trespassing, assault and battery, being drunk in public and disorderly conduct.

"I'm strongly encouraging this young man and his family to move him out of state," said Deborah Olin, his attorney that day.

Delbridge held out hope for the 17-year-old defendant, who gave a wide grin to his aunt as he was led both into and out of the courtroom in handcuffs.

"You still have a chance to turn this around," Delbridge said. "Good luck to you. I hope you're going to be safe."

<b>HE BARELY SURVIVED</b> a different altercation on Jan. 14, 2005, which resulted in him being air-lifted to a hospital. He spent nearly three weeks in a near-coma after the assault, according to his attorneys.

Brain damage is a concern, according to the 17-year-old's defense attorney Mandy Petrocelli. "It's too early to tell," she said, following his court hearing last week. Doctors suggested he be evaluated one year after the assault to determine long-term effects of the injury, she said. His probation officer has noticed changes in his personality, Petrocelli said in court.

Former Herndon High School student Derrick Battle, 16 at the time, faces charges as an adult for aggravated maiming and malicious wounding of the 17-year-old. Battle has been jailed at the Juvenile Detention Center since January. Carl Kenneth Prioleau, 17 at the time, pleaded guilty to his role in the attack in March.

While the prosecuting attorney in Battle's case and the 17-year-old’s defense attorneys call him a victim, Battle's attorneys say their client was in fear for his life that day and acted in self-defense.

Prosecuting attorneys say Battle is lucky the 17-year-old lived — otherwise, he could be facing a murder charge.