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By Kathleen Stubbs @kathleenstubbs3
ROCKVILLE — An attorney said he believes police behaved unconstitutionally in the manner in which they seized evidence from a Damascus High School student charged with first-degree rape, and he requested the case be dropped and filed motion to suppress evidence.
“There were statements taken from the defendant that may be in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights,” said attorney David Felsen, who is representing Damascus High School student Will Smith, 15.
Felsen requested on Thursday that his client’s case be transferred to juvenile court, according to court documents. His case is one of four, and he’s the only one who made the request as of Tuesday. Two other attorneys said last month they were interested in their clients’ cases moving to juvenile court. Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy said at a news conference in November that he expected all four suspects’ attorneys would ask for their cases to be transferred to juvenile court.
Felsen also filed a motion to have the case dismissed and to sever his client’s case from those of the other suspects involved, according to court documents. He requested discovery and transcripts of people who gave testimony to the grand jury.
The four suspects charged as adults and the four alleged victims are members of the Damascus High School junior varsity football team. A fifth suspect’s name is not public because police charged the student as a juvenile; he is a member of the junior varsity team.
The alleged sexual assault incident apparently occurred in a boys’ locker room on campus after school Oct. 31.
Members of a Maryland grand jury indicted Smith and Caleb Thorpe, 15, Kristian Jamal Lee, 15, and Jean Claude Abedi, also 15.
“The rules require that certain things be filed in a certain period of time,” Felsen said.
A Maryland Grand Jury indicted the four suspects Nov. 30 on eight counts each. The charges included one count of first-degree rape, three counts of attempting to commit rape and four counts of conspiracy to commit rape. The suspects are considered innocent until convicted.
Montgomery County Police had, under direction of the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office, arrested and charged four suspects with first-degree rape, which rendered them adults in the court system, following an alleged sexual assault which involved sodomizing a victim with a wooden broomstick and attempting to assault three others. The attack with a broomstick bears similarity to an episode in the second season of the Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why,” sparking suspicions by the public that the show inspired the attack.
Felsen said a motion to suppress evidence and to sever a case are both under a deadline.
Felsen said acquiring transcribed testimonies that people delivered before the Grand Jury for the case, means he will already have them, if he were to need them later in court proceedings. He called the case “a very significant case” and said he therefore wanted to make sure he requested everything he needed to before the deadlines.
“The charges [in the case] are significant, and there have been lots of public statements by the police, the school system and the state’s attorney’s office,” said Felsen.
Attorney Daniel Wright also filed a motion to suppress evidence on behalf of his client Jean Claude Abedi, age 15, a suspect in the alleged sexual-assault incident at Damascus High School.
“This is a normal thing to file a motion to suppress [evidence], right in the beginning right after the indictment,” Wright said.
Ramon Korionoff, spokesperson for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office said he cannot comment on the legal actions by Felsen and Wright because a judge might transfer the cases to juvenile court, and he is restricted from discussing cases involving juveniles. The State’s attorney’s office might respond to Wright and Felsen’s filings in court, however.
Wright requested a speedy trial, discovery, a bill of particulars and transcripts of testimonies given to the Grand Jury, according to court documents.
Even though the right to a speedy trial is a constitutional right, he said he chose to request one, just in case.
“Every once in a while, through some mistake or papers get lost or something, a guy waits over a year for a trial, and that’s not fair,” said Wright.