A teenager who pushed another teen off a train trestle in Greenfield during a drug transaction was sentenced on Wednesday in Highland County Juvenile Court to time he has already served in a juvenile detention facility.
The juvenile, who has served 108 days, was released to the custody of his parents with a suspended sentence to the Department of Youth Services for a minimum period of one year or until he turns 21. He is currently 16.
Judge Kevin Greer said the sentence was suspended with the following conditions: that the defendant have no further violations of the law or terms of community control, be evaluated by Family Recovery Services and complete any treatment ordered, pay all court costs by Aug. 31 unless prior arrangements are made, have no contact with the 16-year-old victim or his family, and remain on community control for an indefinite period of time, which the judge said would be a significant amount of time.
“You are real fortunate this didn’t turn out worse than it actually did,” Greer told the defendant. The judge said he took into consideration that the defendant had no prior record, saying he rarely sends a juvenile to the Department of Youth Services on a first-time offense, and that the defendant was, “why you were where you were.”
The defendant, the victim, and three witnesses – two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old — all testified during the hearing. They said they are all students at McClain High School in Greenfield.
The victim, who Highland County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Molly Bolek told the court had been granted immunity, said that through online messaging he had arranged to sell the defendant 10 grams of marijuana for $100. He said the plan was to meet the defendant at a train trestle in Greenfield.
The victim testified that he arrived at the train trestle first on April 10 of this year, and was standing atop it when the defendant and the three witnesses arrived at the scene to meet him.
“I handed him the weed, he looked at it, and then he pushed me,” the victim said.
He said the defendant used his hands to push him in the chest, hard enough to take him off his feet, and causing him to fall from the trestle.
Greenfield police officer Michael Fryer testified that when he arrived on the scene he found the victim laying on the ground about 30 feet below the trestle, near a concrete abutment the defendant and three witnesses used to access the trestle. Fryer said that upon first contact, the victim could not state his name, had blood coming from his nose and mouth, had a visible fracture to his left arm, and was laying prone on his back.
The victim was eventually flown by helicopter to a hospital, where he spent three to four days, according to testimony.
The defendant testified that the three witnesses came to his home around 5 p.m. on the day of the incident, that he had contacted the victim on Snapchat, and that he and the three witnesses walked to the trestle to meet the victim.
The defendant said the victim handed him the weed, he smelled it, handed it to one of the witnesses to smell, then handed it back to the victim. The witnesses said there was conversation back and forth for a few minutes, with the defendant saying he had handed the weed back to the victim because he did not know if he wanted to buy it.
When the victim handed him the weed a second time, the defendant said he saw a closed pocket knife in the victim’s hand. He said that he pushed the victim because he feared for his safety.
“I didn’t mean to push him off the trestle, but I meant to push him away from me,” the defendant said.
The defendant and all three witness said that when the victim fell, they took off running and did not offer the victim any help.
The defendant said he ran because, “I was scared. I saw him fall over and I didn’t want to get in trouble for self-defense.”
Fryer testified that he found a closed pocket knife in the victim’s back pants pocket.
Bolek asked the court to sentence the defendant to the Department of Youth Services for one year with credit for time already served.
Defense attorney Rich Federle said he believed the 108 days of time already served was sufficient punishment, since the defendant had no prior record, and asked that the defendant be placed on community control.
Greer said he found no credible evidence that a knife was ever brandished – the three witnesses said they never saw a knife – or that the defendant was in fear of his safety. The judge said the defendant had a duty to flee the scene if he felt threatened, and that by pushing the victim, the defendant knowingly caused serious physical harm to the victim.
The judge said the court found the defendant in violation of the felonious assault charge against him, then handed down the sentence.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or firstname.lastname@example.org.