Prison time in juvee escape
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Mar 19, 2014, 13:15
PRINCE GEORGE — Two teens who were involved in the escape from a juvenile detention facility and were later found hiding in the home of a Prince George resident had years added to their time in prison.
Raekwon Brown, 16, was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and Yusef Collier, 16, was sentenced to two years imprisonment Thursday in Prince George Circuit Court.
In October, a Prince George Circuit Court jury found 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.
Police say that in February of 2013, Brown, along with three other co-defendants, Collier, Shelvy Edwards and Alvin Rogers, escaped from the Crater Juvenile Detention Home and later broke into the unoccupied home of Prince George resident Charlotte Donahue.
Judge Nathan Lee sentenced Brown to more than 70 years imprisonment, with all but 12 years suspended, with a lifetime suspension in addition to being placed on indefinite supervised probation and paying a sum of $7,611 in restitution along with the three co-defendants.
The prosecution, led by assistant commonwealth’s attorney Mark Barnard, asked the judge to give Brown a sentence of 20 years due to the “sheer brutality of the incident” and the fact that he demonstrates “an unwillingness to be rehabilitated.”
Brown was guilty of two grand larcenies, breaking and entering and sexual battery prior to this trial.
Barnard said he wanted the sentence to reflect the damage to the victims, including security officer Chris Hawthorne, who suffered multiple injuries including an eye laceration, 16 stitches, a dislocated rotator cuff and a torn meniscus and was still unable to work as of six weeks ago, security officer David Hooker, who quit his job at the detention facility following this incident, and Charlotte Donahue, who is always on guard since her home was broke into.
Anthony Sylvester, Brown’s attorney, said that 20 years is a long time for a minor to be incarcerated, and that this would be an unnecessarily harsh sentence.
“I don’t think the solution to [the victims’] issues” comes through “punishment for punishment’s sake,” Sylvester said.
Sylvester asked Judge Lee to keep in mind that Brown is still a juvenile and that he should minimize his sentence based on the fact that Brown had a troublesome upbringing, and that an extensive history taking “a cocktail of prescription medications” since he was 5 years old has had a huge impact on his everyday behavior, causing him to act in unlawful ways.
Brown’s mother testified that Raekwon has had complications with his mental behavior since kindergarten, being placed on a plethora of different medications to treat symptoms of ADHD, bipolar disorder and migraines.
Prior to his sentencing, Brown read from a prepared statement he wrote explaining that he wants to change his life and get a diploma to be able to take some college classes.
“I have recently gained a serious perspective on my life,” Brown said. “I want to change and better myself and my life.”
Judge Lee told Brown before he gave his sentencing that “I appreciate what you have said” and that “this has been a difficult case” to preside over in regards to the defendants’ age and upbringings as well as the damage to the victims.
Brown will get credit for his time served while awaiting his trial.
Brown was tried along with co-defendant Collier, 16, who was also sentenced on Thursday for a period of two years after he was found guilty in Prince George Circuit Court in October of breaking and entering, escaping from a juvenile facility and damaging a public building.
The prosecution asked for a stricter sentence based on Collier’s previous history including grand larceny, possession of a firearm, contempt and bringing knives to school.
Collier’s past behavior represents “an unwillingness to change,” Barnard said. “It’s time for ... serious consequences to these actions.”
The defense, represented by Jessica Mauger, argued that Collier’s criminal history is a result of “troubling background” and “lack of structure,” where his father died when he was young and his mother essentially abandoned him, and that Collier’s involvement in the crimes in 2013 demonstrate that he was caught up in an opportunity to escape without having first thought out the consequences, but that he was not a danger to others.
“He [didn’t] hurt anybody. He [didn’t] help hurt anybody,” Mauger said.
Before receiving his sentence, Collier read from a letter he wrote that explained how apologetic he was for his actions, and that he has become a better person while in jail, with goals to go to school, get into the military and care for his family.
“Life is a beautiful thing to waste,” Collier said. “If I keep going in the same direction, I’ll end up in jail the rest of my life.”
Lee sentenced Collier to a total of 26 years imprisonment, with 24 years suspended, and that he be placed on indefinite probation in addition to also paying the restitution along with Brown, Edwards and Rogers.