2 guilty in juvee prison escape
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Oct 23, 2013, 17:02
PRINCE GEORGE — Two teens who were involved in the escape from a juvenile detention facility and later found hiding in the unoccupied home of a Prince George resident were found guilty of a combined 11 charges on Tuesday morning.
A Prince George Circuit Court jury found Raekwon Brown, 16, guilty of eight charges including malicious wounding, two counts of assault and battery of an employee at the Crater Juvenile Detention Home, felony damage to the detention facility, participating in a riot, escaping the detention facility, statutory burglary and the misdemeanor destruction of property. Brown plead not guilty to a total of 10 charges, and he was cleared of two charges, robbery and petty larceny.
The jury found Yusef Collier, 16, guilty of three charges including statutory burglary, escaping the detention facility and misdemeanor damage to the same facility. Collier pleaded not guilty to five charges, and he was cleared of two, malicious wounding and assault and battery.
The incidents began on Feb. 9, while both defendants were detainees at the Crater Juvenile Detention Home in Disputanta.
Video evidence showed Brown initiating a violent altercation with David Hooker, a security officer at the detention facility, as he was attempting to secure Brown in his room. Brown slammed Hooker into a wall and forced him to the ground, after which Brown stole the room keys from him, and could later be seen whipping Hooker with the keys.
With the keys, Brown began unlocking the rooms in the corridor allowing for detainees to get out of their rooms, including Alvin Rogers and eventually Collier.
Video footage showed Rogers swinging fists at Hooker, during which he busted Hooker’s lip open, an injury that required three stitches, and he was out of work for “several weeks,” according to Hooker’s testimony.
Chris Hawthorne, a security officer at the detention center, said he “heard a big bang down at the wing,” and went to see what was going on.
After Hawthorne arrived at the corridor, he met with Hooker, Rogers and Brown. He got into an altercation with Brown, and Brown hit him in the back of the head with a radio.
At one moment in the video, Collier could be seen exiting his room at the far end of the hallway and observing the altercations from a distance, but he did not join in any of the fighting.
Hooker said he was unable to detain Rogers and went to find safety in a nearby intake room adjacent to the recreation hall.
At this point, Hawthorne was still trying to control the situation in the corridor by securing the doorway to the hall, when a piece of radio shattered the glass of the door, and shards struck Hawthorne in the side of his face by his right eye forcing him to back off from the doorway, Hawthorne testified.
Brown came through the door swinging an object, and Hawthorne decided to retreat to the same intake room that Hooker had gone into. As Hawthorne was heading through the recreation room toward the intake room, Brown ran up behind him and shoved him to the ground.
Hawthorne said he then began knocking on the door to get Hooker to let him into the intake room.
“I was bleeding profusely...[I] had blood on my face. It was hard to see,” Hawthorne testified.
Once Hooker let him into the room, “[Hawthorne] was bleeding from his head and his chest. ... Blood was everywhere,” Hooker said during his testimony.
Hawthorne said that police were contacted, and he and Hooker left the facility.
Hawthorne testified that he suffered a number of injuries including a laceration by his right eye that required eight stitches, 16 stitches in the back of his head, a dislocated rotator cuff, a torn meniscus in his knee and shards of glass in his left hand.
He is still receiving medical treatment for his injuries, has three scars from the incident and will be needing knee surgery in the near future, Hawthorne said in his testimony.
Videos showed four detainees gain access to the intake room, where Collier tampered with the camera causing the screen to go white. Video footage from outside the building showed a typewriter crashing through a window, and four detainees running out of the building.
Tom Agee, the facility’s director of operations, testified that after taking a head count of the detainees at the facility, Brown, Collier, Rogers and Shelvy Edwards were missing from the roster.
The damages to the detention center cost a total of $2,271.47 to repair, Agee testified.
Sgt. Jodie Warren with the Prince George Police Department testified that he responded to a call several hours later of suspicious juveniles who were last seen in Charlotte Donahue’s yard on Prince George Drive.
When Warren approached the front door of Donahue’s house, he rang the doorbell and heard movement from inside, which subsided shortly after. He noticed the glass next to the door handle had been broken into the house, at which point he contacted other police officers in the area to assist him at the scene, Warren testified.
Once additional officers arrived, he entered the home, where he witnessed Brown coming down from the attic and Collier lying on a bed wearing a fur coat after a Taser had been deployed, Warren testified, before mentioning that flames from the gas stove were turned on in the kitchen when he arrived.
Warren said that both Collier and Brown, along with the two other escapees were removed from the house in handcuffs.
Donahue testified that she was out of town when the incident occurred, and that she returned home after receiving a phone call on Sunday morning.
In addition to the damage to her front door, Donahue said that her bed was damaged, some items of clothing were missing including the fur coat that Collier was wearing which was damaged beyond repair, and that some candy and sodas had been consumed from her house.
Donahue testified that she did not know the defendants.
Mark Barnard, assistant commonwealth’s attorney who led the prosecution, asked the jury to take notice of the “absolute chaos” in the Crater detention facility, and to find the defendants guilty of their “inexcusable” acts.
Barnard stressed the notion of concert of action, and asked the jury to find Collier to be “equally answerable and bound by the acts” of the other detainees present committing the crimes, with specific regards to Collier’s presence in the corridor while Brown and Rogers were seen fighting the security officers.
Collier’s attorney, Jessica Mauger, asked the jury to “find [Collier] guilty of what he’s actually guilty of doing”, escaping the facility and damaging property, but not to find him guilty of malicious wounding or assault and battery because Collier was present, but expressed no notion of consent to their actions.
Mauger also argued that there was not sufficient evidence to convict Collier of statutory burglary because there was no intent to steal anything from Donahue’s home.
Brown’s attorney, Anthony Sylvester, argued a similar defense, claiming that the evidence supports grounds of trespassing, not statutory burglary.
Sylvester also argued that, as stated in the Virginia Code, more than two individuals must be involved in the causation of a fight to be defined as a ‘riot’, which there was no evidence to support that there were more than two.
“I don’t see a riot. I see an escape,” Sylvester said.
Although the verdict was determined by a jury, the judge will be in charge of the sentencing, scheduled for January 9, 2014, because the defendants are younger than 18.
Rogers plead guilty to nine charges in June and will be sentenced on November 19, according to online court records.