Accused Rapists Should Be Tried as Adults, Prosecutor Says
Father of one of the accused claims his son is being treated unfairly, pleads for his release from detention center.
The father of one of the men accused of raping a girl in 2011 vocally expressed his frustration Wednesday that his son and another man accused of the alleged assault remained in juvenile detention when they had only been charged.
Meanwhile, prosecutors have filed a motion to try the two Morristown men—who have not been named since they were juveniles at the time of the alleged incident—as adults. Morris County Superior Court Family Division Judge Michael Paul Wright is expected to hear from prosecutors and defense attorneys for the pair on Oct. 16 and decide whether to grant the request.
The two men, along with 19-year-old Tyrec Phillips—an adult at the time of the alleged incident who has appeared in adult criminal court—are accused of giving a 17-year-old girl something to drink at a Hazel Street home in September 2011 that caused her to fall in and out of consciousness. The three then allegedly drove the unconscious girl to a secluded spot on Monroe Street, near Evergreen Cemetery, where the alleged sexual assault occurred.
Phillips was released Sept. 21 from jail on $100,000 bail—reduced from an original $150,000. Meanwhile, the two 18-year-olds currently being tried as juveniles have remained in juvenile detention for more than a month.
Unlike the maximum sentence of four years as juveniles the two men, if tried as adults, could face up to 20 years in prison.
"I think it is so unfair my son is being treated this way," the father said to the judge. "He is being punished on a mere accusation. I just don't like what's going on."
The father said, despite their names not being publicly released due to their juvenile status, "everyone knows. He's being maliciously [accused] in these papers," he said. "I would go so far as to say this is borderline racist. If these were white kids, they wouldn't be here."
Judge Wright, who like the father and those accused is black, said, "what I have before me is probable cause that your son has been involved in a heinous event."
As the father tried to again speak, the judge said, "stop talking."
"I'm trying to help you understand," he said. "Your son is not the first defendant to be charged and remain in custody."
Wright did note that "pre-adjudicative detention," the legal standard in Morris County, "troubles me."
"I have often and will continue to beg the powers-that-be for a home electronic detention program," he said, noting such a program currently exists as close as in Sussex County. "I think this is the type of case [that warrants it]. But, we don't have it."
Should circumstances change involving the two men leading up to the Oct. 16 waiver hearing, "I will of course revisit it at that time," the judge said.
Until then, "clearly my analysis of risk or harm outweighs the unfairness of pre-adjudicated detention," the judge said.