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Teen Put in Juvenile Custody in Killing

Lusby Girl Admits Role in Son's Death

By Arthur Santana
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page SM01

Samantha S. Staycoff, the 17-year-old Lusby girl charged in October with killing her 3-month-old baby by stuffing a pair of socks into his mouth, acknowledged her involvement in the infant's death last week and was placed in the custody of state juvenile authorities Thursday.

The Calvert County Department of Social Services, meanwhile, has completed an internal investigation of the death of the infant, Joel W. Kozlouski. A spokesman for the agency said a social worker's decision not to remove the child from the home despite a previous report of abuse was justified but declined to explain why.

After Calvert County Circuit Court Judge Warren J. Krug transferred the case to juvenile court, Staycoff pleaded "involved" -- the equivalent of a guilty plea in adult court -- to second-degree murder and was committed to the care and custody of the State Department of Juvenile Services, said Laura Martin, deputy state's attorney for Calvert County.

Staycoff, a former Patuxent High School senior, initially was charged as an adult and had been facing a combined maximum of 60 years in prison if she had been convicted of the criminal charges against her -- first-degree child abuse and second-degree murder.

During the police investigation of the death last fall, Staycoff admitted to police that she had stuffed a rolled-up pair of baby socks into her child's mouth as he lay in his crib in the middle of the night Aug. 27. She told investigators she did that because she was tired and the baby would not stop crying.

The infant's death was Calvert County's only homicide last year.

Thursday's transfer of the case to juvenile court came at a hearing that had been sought by the public defender representing Staycoff. The lawyer presented evidence about Staycoff's age, psychological background and need for treatment as a juvenile.

After hearing from a clinical social worker, a psychologist and a representative from juvenile services and reviewing other information outlining Staycoff's troubled youth and unstable family environment, Krug ordered the case moved to juvenile court.

He then ordered the courtroom cleared of all non-family members and accepted Staycoff's plea before ordering her into the custody of juvenile services. Krug, who was in court Friday, did not respond to calls to his office.

Under state law, juvenile services officials can request that the Circuit Court release Staycoff at any time until she turns 21, when they must release her, Martin said.

Staycoff is at the Young Women's Facility of Maryland at Waxter in Laurel, Martin said. She probably will be transferred to an in-patient, secure psychiatric facility.

Martin said Staycoff is not likely to be released soon.

"I understand the court's decision," Martin said. "It was a difficult decision to make, given her close proximity to being an adult yet her very severe psychological history."

But some family members were outraged with the judge's twin rulings.

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