Devil’s in the Outfield?????
A 14-year-old boy arrested for running onto the field at a Charlotte Knights baseball game has returned home, but questions are lingering over why he spent three days in jail for what some see as a juvenile prank.
The York County, S.C., public defender this week blasted the Sheriff’s Office for its handling of the case, calling it â€œridiculousâ€ that the boy would be locked up.
â€œDon’t you think a good scolding by the police officer would have sufficed?â€ asked Harry Dest, whose office represented the teen. â€œThere needs to be a little bit more common sense when they decide to put people in jail.â€
County law enforcement officials defend their actions, adding that a rare set of circumstances left little other choice. The sheriff’s patrol captain credited Deputy Josh Solomon for the right call in taking the teen and his father to jail.
â€œThe kid’s lucky he didn’t get hurt, or somebody else didn’t get hurt,â€ said Capt. Allen Brandon.
Once the boy was put in jail, his options became limited. Unlike adults, juveniles cannot appear before magistrate judges, who work in rotating shifts including the weekends.
Minors can be released only by judges in Family Court, which convenes only on Tuesdays and Thursdays in York County. The law allows minors to be held for up to 48 hours, not counting weekends, until they must appear before a judge.
For the teen, it was a case of unfortunate timing, Brandon said.
â€œUnfortunately, when it happens on a Saturday night and it’s a juvenile, we have to wait until a judge is back in chambers,â€ Brandon said.
The boy was released from jail on Tuesday after appearing before a Family Court judge and paying a $25 fine.
Judge Arthur Morehead gave the boy the reduced fine, saying three nights in jail was enough punishment. He also ordered the boy to write a report for his school’s closed-circuit TV newscast on what he had learned.
A near-capacity crowd of 9,645 fans watched the drama at the Fort Mill stadium, including many who stayed until the end for post-game fireworks.
The boy jumped from above the home dugout, took off his shirt and sprinted to the center field wall, where he jumped up and touched the â€œ400â€ foot marker.
It was also York County employee appreciation night, and dozens of county officials sat in the stands with free tickets.
Stacey Coleman, an assistant public defender who represented the 14-year-old at his trial, questioned the coincidence. â€œThere was a lot of law enforcement there,â€ said Coleman, adding that it might explain why authorities â€œmade kind of a big deal about it.â€
Also in the crowd was 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett.
He said Wednesday that he regrets the teen wound up in jail for three days. But he said law enforcement had little choice given what he called a â€œstrange confluence of circumstances.â€
Once off the field, the boy told a deputy that his father, Jeffrey Richards of Troutman, had dared him to go through with the feat, and that his father had even said his son would be a â€œmanâ€ if he did.
The Sheriff’s Office arrested the 35-year-old father on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. The boy lives with his mother in West Virginia, and had been in town to visit his dad.
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