Wednesday, August 03, 2005

A sorry state of affairs.

11-year-old Fresno girl who threw rock spared felony trial

By Lisa Leff

FRESNO – An 11-year-old girl who threw a rock at a boy during a water balloon fight escaped jail time Wednesday on an assault with a deadly weapon charge as she was ordered to talk about the fight with her young victim. Maribel Cuevas was prepared to face a felony trial when lawyers reached a deal behind closed doors that allowed her to avoid pleading guilty.

Cuevas spent five days in juvenile hall and a month under house arrest after throwing a two-pound rock at 8-year-old Elijah Vang, cutting his forehead after he pelted her with a water-filled balloon.

The girl maintained she was playing on the sidewalk with her 6-year-old brother on April 29 when Elijah rode by on his bike with a half-dozen neighborhood boys, who splattered them with water balloons.

The girl threw a rock that police later described as "jagged" and measuring 5.5 inches by 3.75 inches and it hit Elijah on the head, opening a gash that required stitches. While she ran to find Elijah's parents, a neighbor called 911.

Elijah's family, which has since moved away, declined to press charges, but were prepared to testify for the prosecution. They did not appear in the courtroom.

Fresno's mayor and police chief have said Maribel's case was handled appropriately, and that assault with a deadly weapon was the proper charge for an act that might have had deadly consequences.

"The simple fact is that we have an 11-year-old girl who struck a boy in the head with a jagged-edged, two-pound river rock, that required him to have stitches," Dyer said. "That is a felony, assault with a deadly weapon, and we are very fortunate that that act did not cause a more serious injury, even death."

Now I believe that there should be some punishment for a child who throws a rock that big, but really - assault with a deadly weapon? What is this world coming to where children in street fights on bikes are charged with felony assault and murder? What happened to the good old days?


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