Saturday, August 18, 2001

Teen can be tried as adult

Apologizes over shooting of 2-year-old

By Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Price Hill teen shed a tear Friday as he apologized for an incident in which a toddler was shot. The crying stopped when Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Thomas R. Lipps said the 16-year-old could be tried as an adult on charges of attempted murder.

        As Larry Washington left the courtroom, his mother pulled at her son's jail uniform. He shrugged her off.

        “I'm a grown man now,” he said. “I'm not going to cry.”

[photo] Larry Washington, 16, learned on Friday he could be tried as an adult in the shooting of Devonte Ross, 2.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)
| ZOOM |
        Now that the court considers him an adult, Mr. Washington spent Friday night at the Hamilton County Justice Center. He had been staying at a juvenile detention facility. His adult bond is set at $1 million.

        Within the next month, a grand jury will decide whether to indict him on charges of firing a gun at 24-year-old Dominick Mitchem. The bullet hit 2-year-old Devonte Ross in the torso. The teen faces charges of attempted murder, inducing panic, possessing a weapon and two counts of felonious assault. If convicted, he could spend almost three decades in prison.

        “Look at him!” pleaded his mother, Joyce Ginyard, as the teen was led out of the courtroom.

        “My baby's scared. He's still a child,” she said. “I understand he has to be punished for something. (But) the prosecutor has so much animosity toward him. I don't think it has nothing to do with the shooting.”

        Mr. Washington, who has an extensive arrest record and has lived in foster homes, group homes and juvenile detention facilities, turned 16 soon after his arrest. Prosecutors wanted him tried as an adult because of his lengthy criminal history.

        “His background indicates that the juvenile system has nothing to offer him. The activity that he participated in was an adult activity and it's appropriate that he face trial as an adult,” Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen said.

        In the past four years, Larry Washington has been arrested 22 times and convicted in juvenile court 17 times. Assault, attempted robbery and gross sexual imposition have been some of the charges. He was released from a state juvenile detention facility in May after serving almost a year for his involvement in stealing a car.

        On the evening of July 20, authorities say, the teen shot Devonte in Over-the-Rhine.

        The bullet hit Devonte's liver, missing a crucial artery by a half-inch. The child is recovering, but for the rest of his life will have a scar that stretches from his chest to his navel.

        Judge Lipps said Mr. Washington's age, record and the severity of his charges made him worthy of adult status. The teen automatically would have been tried as an adult if he had been 16 when originally arrested, the judge said.

        “The juvenile court has had an extensive history with him in trying to rehabilitate him,” Judge Lipps said.

        The judge spoke after Mr. Washington apologized over the shooting of Devonte.

        “I didn't mean to do it,” he said. “That's just like shooting one of my little cousins.”

        During the hearing, Devonte played outside the courtroom while waiting with a family friend in the juvenile court halls.

        His mother, Carmaleetta “Coko” Ross, said her child has his old energy back. She said she has forgiven Larry Washington. She wants him to spend six years in prison. That's enough for him to realize his mistake and turn his life around, she said.

        “It's out of my hands. It's in the law's hands now,” she said. But, “putting him away behind bars is not going to do anything.”

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