Officials discuss how to prosecute teens
Two South Lake Tahoe boys may be prosecuted differently when brought to court to face charges of robbing a man with a BB gun.
Lee Duncan, 15, and Shawn Gennarini, 16, were in juvenile court Monday before Judge Michael Gibbons to hear how the district attorney’s office planned to prosecute them. Both were arrested April 27 after a 57-year-old guest at a Stateline hotel told police the two boys held him up at gunpoint.
A motion to certify a Shawn as an adult was submitted, but a plea bargain has been offered to Lee, said Deputy District Attorney Derrick Lopez. Lopez said he could not confirm if the plea bargain included Lee being treated as a juvenile or an adult.
Lee’s attorney, Terri Roeser, said Lee has not decided whether to take the deal, but has until Friday to decide. Shawn’s attorney, Mark Jackson, said he was out of town last week and did not have a chance to read the motion to treat Shawn as an adult until before court.
“It raises a lot of concerns that aren’t supported by some of the evidence. It talks about Shawn’s background in the juvenile system in California. I think the history is very important,” Jackson said.
He said he wanted more time to get Shawn’s record and to have a psychological evaluation done. Jackson said Shawn had been in the juvenile system since he was 12 years old. Jackson has until June 15 to file a response to the motion to consider Shawn an adult.
Shawn has been in the Stateline juvenile detention facility since the end of April.
Jackson asked if the boys were going to be treated differently – to Shawn’s detriment – he would like to see the juvenile probation department’s recommendation about Lee. The judge said the confidential reports should be shared between attorneys only.
Lee has no prior record and that fact, combined with stellar recommendations from many people, convinced the judge to release Lee from the detention center at the pair’s first hearing May 8. He has been on house arrest since then and will continue to stay on house arrest.
Jackson asked Gibbons to release Shawn to his mother and stepfather in Elko, but the judge refused.
“This report raises a whole series of issues and even problems he’s had at the detention center. This situation looks far worse than when he was here last time. This is an issue of safety of the community,” Gibbons said.
Both boys will be back in court Tuesday, June 27 at 1:30 p.m.
Lopez said the process ordinarily starts with the juvenile judge deciding to treat the juvenile as an adult based on the juvenile probation office recommendation. Lopez said to be certified as an adult, a juvenile must at least be 14 years old at the time the crime was committed and the crime must be a felony.
The juvenile probation office does a full investigation to determine if the juvenile or adult system is more appropriate. There is an evidence hearing and the state has to prove prosecutorial merit, Lopez said. Under Supreme Court guidelines, the judge must look at the seriousness of the crime and at public safety, the juvenile’s criminal history and the attributes of the juvenile.
Once the judge makes a decision to certify a juvenile as an adult, the boy will go to justice court for a preliminary hearing. If the justice determines there is probable cause to charge him with a felony, he will continue to district court to be tried for the charge.