Family attorney appeals ruling, case set for retrial July 11 in Clarke County Circuit Court
By George Archibald
A 15-year-old girl who fought her 13-year-old brother between classes at Johnson-Williams Middle School on March 7 was found guilty yesterday of assault and battery by Juvenile and Domestic Relations Judge Ronald Lewis Napier, who sentenced her to serve a minimum of four days in jail at the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center.
Napier rendered the verdict in an angry tone, stating his displeasure that the 8 th grader showed no remorse in her testimony, despite pleas by defense attorney David Hensley that the girl had no prior record of any unlawful misbehavior including driving infractions as she is not yet older enough to have a license according to witnesses that attended the closed-proceeding.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Archana McLoughlin prosecuted the case vigorously with Johnson-Williams Middle School dean of students James Ross as main prosecution witness and a school video that showed the teenage girl ambush and start punching her bigger brother as he exited a classroom into a crowded school hallway.
School Principal Evan Robb had telephoned the siblings’ father, a high-ranking state government official, to request that he or the students’ mother come to the school to pick them up while they were detained in the principal’s office.
The mother was at the family home in Berryville and told this reporter yesterday that Robb had already summoned Clarke County Deputy Sheriff Gary Lichliter, school resource officer for the sheriff’s office, by the time she arrived at Johnson-Williams.
The fight had occurred on a Wednesday, and by the next week, without any further discussion or meetings with the family, school officials, the sheriff’s office and commonwealth’s attorney had decided to move forward with an assault and battery charge against her daughter, the mother said.
The family’s reaction over the three-months since the criminal charge has been “This is just surreal,” the mother said, who described the teenage sister and brother and a younger sister as “close and typical kids.”
At trial yesterday, the brother testified that he thought the fight was “funny” a family member later said. He admitted that he had hit his sister and bruised her arm the day before after an argument, which is why she had attacked him at school.
They testified that the school nurse examined the brother after the fight and found him to be unharmed.
The mother said outside the courthouse after the trial that Judge Napier reacted negatively to her daughter’s comment in testimony that she was not worried about hurting her brother “because he was chunky.”
County Sheriff Anthony W. Roper told this reporter in March that the county’s decision to bring assault and battery charges against the girl was prompted by the school video, which suggested that her attack at school was premeditated and “quite violent.”
Reaction in the community after the court verdict was mixed.
Juvenile law enforcement proceedings for offenders under age 18 are conducted in strict secrecy under Virginia law in order to protect minor offenders.
Principal Robb and dean of students Ross were not available for comment about the trial yesterday, said Johnson Williams office secretary Chris Kennicott. Neither school official responded to a request that they return the call.
Legal counsel Hensley’s immediate appeal of Judge Napier’s verdict, after a defense motion to dismiss the assault and battery charge was denied, kicks the case up to Circuit Court Judge John E. Wetsel, Jr. for retrial on July 11.
In addition to the 15-year-old’s four-day jail sentence, the juvenile was ordered to enroll in an anger-management program and placed on unsupervised probation until age 18.
Clarke Juvenile Gets Four-Day Jail Sentence for Fighting Brother at Johnson-Williams Middle School
June 9, 2012 by