Lake teen sent to China Spring | RecordCourier.com
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Lake teen sent to China Spring

by Merrie Leininger, Record-Courier staff writer

A South Lake Tahoe teen-ager was ordered into China Spring Youth Camp Monday as part of a plea bargain that ensured he would not be sentenced as an adult.

Lee Duncan, 16, and Shawn Gennarini, 17, were arrested April 27 for attempted robbery after a 57-year-old guest at a Stateline hotel told police the two boys held him up at gunpoint. Gennarini pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor, grand larceny on a person, and will be sentenced Aug. 7.

He was certified as an adult because it is alleged he was the ringleader. Gennarini was on probation from El Dorado County and had the BB gun that the victim believed to be a real weapom.

Duncan’s attorney, Terri Roeser, said she still felt China Spring was too strict for a boy with no prior record.

“I think you know how I feel about Lee and his involvement in this case, but an agreement was made,” Roeser said.

Duncan’s family simply did not want him to face adult charges. Many people came forward to vouch for his character at previous hearings. At Monday’s sentencing, his mother told Judge Michael Gibbons her son had never been in trouble and this act occurred when he became mixed up with the wrong crowd over spring vacation. She said the boys took an overdose of a hallucinogenic drug, and he was under the influence during the robbery.

Deputy District Attorney Derrick Lopez said despite Duncan’s character references, the court should not lose sight of the seriousness of the crime. He said the victim was very shaken.

“He said they were wearing masks and he was very intimidated by Mr. Duncan’s size. When he refused to give up his wallet, and they pulled out a weapon, he tried to talk to them and said, ‘You don’t want to do this, you’re going to go to prison,'” Lopez said. The boys did not get any money from the man.

Lopez said Duncan is lucky to be in the juvenile system and feels the sentence to China Spring is fair. China Spring does not usually accept inmates who have been convicted of crimes against another person, but Probation Officer Vicky Lamb said after she explained the case, officials agreed it would be an appropriate placement.

Gibbons said he also had to look at the nature of the crime and said Duncan is lucky the victim was not injured.

He will be admitted to the camp Friday and remains on house arrest until then. The sentence to China Spring varies because inmates gain more freedom and privileges by obeying regulations. The average confinement is six months.