Marijuana Multiplies Suspect's Problems

By Ernesto Londoño
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 25, 2006

Talk about having a lousy day in court.

As Devin K. Hoerauf's robbery trial in Rockville was wrapping up Tuesday afternoon, the 19-year-old accidentally dropped a bag of marijuana on the floor when he stood up at the defense table.

The judge's assistant noticed a plastic bag containing "a green, leafy substance" and pointed it out to a Montgomery County deputy sheriff, who picked it up and added two misdemeanor charges -- possession of a controlled substance and possession of paraphernalia -- to Hoerauf's criminal history.

To make matters worse, his mother, a defense lawyer, was by his side at the time -- representing him.

"I don't even know what the word for it is," Circuit Court Judge David A. Boynton said, according to a recording of the hearing. "Inconceivable is not strong enough. For him to walk into a courtroom in the middle of a jury trial for a robbery case with marijuana in his pocket is just unbelievable."

Assistant State's Attorney Jeffrey Wennar asked Boynton for a high bond, noting that Hoerauf had tested positive for use of narcotics in recent weeks, a violation of the terms of his pretrial release supervision program.

"To come into a courthouse in the middle of trial and have a bag of marijuana on his person just seems to me to be a total disregard for the criminal justice system," Wennar said in court.

According to the recording, Gwyn Hoerauf, his mother, said jail was not the answer to her son's problems.

"I'm going to say it in a very crass way, and I hope he forgives me," she said.

"He is brain-damaged, your honor. I don't mean he's just a defendant who does dumb stuff. This is a boy with an IQ in triple digits. His brain is glued together with Silly Putty. He can't think his way out of a paper bag, but he can do physics."

Hoerauf first appeared before Boynton years ago on juvenile charges. He pleaded guilty this summer to second-degree assault after an incident in Silver Spring. He was charged with robbery in June after he and some friends were suspected of stealing bikes from a group of younger teenagers near the MARC train station in Germantown.

The jury, which was not in the courtroom for the marijuana bust, convicted Hoerauf on four counts of robbery and acquitted him on two counts of robbery and one charge of conspiracy.

Courthouse arrests for such things as disorderly conduct and showing up drunk are not unheard of, Montgomery Sheriff Raymond Kight said.

"But at the defense table?" the sheriff asked. "We've never had that happen."


© 2006 The Washington Post Company