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Teen suspect in detention-center murder case to be tried as an adult

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 8:11 PM

A youth who was 13 years old when he allegedly sexually assaulted and killed a teacher at the Cheltenham Youth Facility a year ago will be tried as an adult, a circuit court judge in Prince George's County has ruled.

Following a hearing that lasted several days, Prince George's County Circuit Court Judge C. Philip Nichols Jr. issued a written ruling Tuesday that the boy should be tried in adult court rather than in juvenile court, according to the decision, which has not been made public but was provided by a courthouse source.

The Washington Post generally does not name juvenile suspects unless they will be tried as an adult. In this case, though, the youth's name is not in the court's decision.

The teenager, who is now 14, is accused of the beating, strangling and attempted rape of Hannah Wheeling, 65, whose body was found Feb. 18, 2010, in the snow outside a cottage just beyond the fence of the juvenile facility.

Investigators found a shirt with the suspect's name written on it under a set of stairs near where Wheeling's body was found, court records say. The shirt had blood on it. The victim's slacks, pantyhose, earrings and cellphone were found under the same set of stairs.

Nichols cited concerns over public safety, according to the opinion.

During the hearing to determine whether the boy would be tried as an adult, prosecutors produced witnesses who said it would take 10 to 15 years of therapy before it would be safe to release the boy from custody, according to the decision. If the boy were tried as a juvenile and committed to a juvenile detention center, he would have to be released when he turned 21.

Nichols also wrote that the boy has a record of burglaries, including one in which he allegedly stabbed and wounded a woman whose home he invaded.

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