Youths To Be Tried as Adults in Beating Trial

Youths To Be Tried as Adults in Beating Trial

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OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- A 2nd District Juvenile Court judge has certified one of two youths charged in a near-fatal beating to stand trial as an adult.

Judge Mark Andrus on Tuesday ruled that 15-year-old Javier Cisneros would be tried as an adult, while a 14-year-old, who allegedly instigated the beating and is accused of clubbing Santiago Dejesus Vasquez with a dumbbell bar five times, will not.

Andrus said he realized the 14-year-old was much more violent in the March 7 attack, but thought the younger assailant had a "reasonable chance of rehabilitation."

Andrus cited the younger defendant's schizophrenic symptoms, which have gone largely untreated, and said the youth's juvenile record was not as bad as Cisneros'.

The judge said Cisneros has bucked the juvenile court system.

"He has been given much more of an opportunity to change and to demonstrate a response to those opportunities, which has been not to change," Andrus said.

Cisneros' juvenile record includes two felony firearms violations, substance abuse, curfew violations truancy and an incident involving the slashing of 55 tires.

Vasquez, 30, had befriended the defendants and other teenage gang members, according to testimony.

Prosecutors said the beating occurred after tempers flared during a disagreement over a gang's name and Vasquez's teasing the teens about their gang.

"What higher risk do we have than what these two represent?" Deputy County Attorney Dave Weiskopf said in his closing arguments. "Beating up a helpless drunk who befriended them, who they then tried to dispatch to his maker."

Public defender Sharon Sipes said the 14-year old's father disappeared when his mother was pregnant with him, his mother can't control him and most of the resources of juvenile court haven't even been tried yet with her client.

Vasquez, according to testimony, now functions at the intellectual level of a child, unable to talk coherently or do simple tasks such as dress himself.

"While they may be young and that invokes some sympathy from the court, the state would argue that the sympathy should be extended to the community that fears gang behavior," Weiskopf argued.

"If the certification statute stands for anything, these two should be bound over to adult court."

Andrus sentenced Weiskopf last week to two days in jail for contempt of court. He is to enter the jail on June 11, but is considering appealing the contempt citation.

Andrus said Weiskopf was rude during a May 11 session in the same case when he vociferously disputed, both in open court and in chambers, Andrus' rulings blocking the entering of several police reports as evidence.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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