A Howard County Circuit Court judge denied a request Friday to move a 17-year-old Wilde Lake High School student’s rape case to juvenile court
DeShawn Jones, 17, was charged with rape and assault for allegedly attacking a 14-year-old girl inside the choir room at Wilde Lake High School on Feb. 4, while school was in session.
During the motions hearing on Friday, Jones sat next to his defense attorney in a gray correctional jumpsuit.
Prosecutors said Jones had an extensive juvenile criminal record and that at 17 he was an almost an adult. They said there was no place in the juvenile system to put the defendant due to the nature of his crime and that he may be a threat to public safety.
Jones' attorney argued that he could be rehabilitated in the juvenile system.
"I think the charges brought against him are hard to believe," said Adam Frank, Jones' defense attorney. "Just because they are serious charges doesn't mean he should be tried in the adult system."
In a statement released in February, Frank said, "The public must remember that there are two sides to every story and there will be evidence that will shed light on Mr. Jones's innocence."
During the hearing, Jones' mother, Aleisha Davis, testified about her son's past. She said his father was incarcerated six months after Jones was born. She told the court she lost her job in 2009 and Jones began to get in trouble with police while they were living in Baltimore city.
In 2012, Davis moved with Jones to Randallstown where she said they lived from May until September of 2012. Then they moved to Wilde Lake, according to Davis.
Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Romano said Jones was initially put on probation for a juvenile offense in 2010. Since then he has been charged with seven additional offenses, according to Romano.
In Baltimore County, Jones participated in the Choice Program, a community-based rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders. Davis testified Jones was doing well in that program, but Romano pointed out there were 13 different occasions where Jones didn't show up to meetings or events and that 38 different phone calls by the program to Jones' home weren't returned.
Davis said she didn't know about the phone calls.
Both Jones' mother as well as an agent from the Department of Juvenile Services testified that Jones has no cognitive impairments. Judge Louis A. Becker noted he was enrolled in some gifted and talented classes at Wilde Lake High.
In making his ruling, Becker said that while most of Jones' offenses were non-violent, "We have a young man here with an extensive, extensive juvenile record," who didn't show a commitment to rehab efforts in the past.
Jones is currently charged with second-degree rape and second-degree assault. Police wrote in their report of the incident that Jones blocked the doorway to a practice room inside the choir room while forcing the 14-year-old girl to have sex.
During the motions hearing the parents of the girl sat in the front row of the courtroom.
Deputy State's Attorney Mary Murphy said in closing statements of the motion hearing that Jones' life may be forever affected if tried in an adult court, but that, "The victim's life was affected as well."
A criminal jury trial in the case is scheduled for June 5, according to court records.
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