A 14-year-old Tacoma boy who stole a car, rammed another vehicle while fleeing a theft and then wrecked, injuring his 12-year-old buddy, won’t serve time in juvenile detention if he keeps out of trouble for the next nine months.
Pierce County Juvenile Court Commissioner Mary Dicke approved the deferred disposition Tuesday, court records show, after the boy pleaded guilty to car theft, vehicular assault, failure to remain at the scene of an injury accident and two other traffic-related crimes.
Dicke ordered the boy to serve nine months probation, perform 40 hours of community service and write apology letters to the people whose cars were damaged in the crime spree.
The boy, who was 13 at the time of the crimes, had faced up to seven years in the custody of the state’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, the records show. That sentence still could be imposed if he violates Dicke’s order.
The Prosecutor’s Office’s juvenile division opposed the deferred disposition, supervisor Kevin Benton said.
“This was a pretty serious situation,” he said.
Still, it’s not unusual for judges or court commissioners to grant a deferred disposition in cases where a juvenile offender has no prior criminal record, as was the case for the 14-year-old boy, Benton said.
“He’s going to be under pretty intense supervision,” he said.
Efforts to reach the boy’s defense attorney, Clarence Henderson, were unsuccessful.
A 15-year-old boy who was in the car with the 14-year-old during the early-morning hours of June 19 also received a deferred disposition after pleading guilty to car theft. He got six months probation. A third boy, the one who was hurt, is expected to enter a plea later this month and could get a deferred disposition as well.
Police said the crime spree began after the 14-year-old boy broke into a Nissan Xterra parked near the University of Puget Sound about 12:05 a.m. He picked up the other two boys and drove around town for a while.
About two hours later, a worker at the Metropolitan Market on North Proctor spotted a group of boys loading watermelons from a display outside the store into an Xterra. An employee of the market saw the boys and tried to block the parking lot exit with his own vehicle, court records show.
The boys jumped into the Xterra, and the driver rammed the employee’s car out of the way before speeding down North 28th Street with the employee following in his car. The Xterra went out of control in the 3900 block of North 28th Street and crashed into a tree.
Two of the boys inside the car ran away. The third stumbled out with a chunk of vehicle debris stuck in his head, court records show. He underwent surgery for his injuries and later was charged with car theft in the case.
The market employee, in a July 24 letter to the court, said he was haunted by the incident.
“I couldn’t get the injured boy’s face/injury out of my mind for at least a week,” he wrote. “I kept replaying him staggering up to me and saying, ‘Help me, I’m dying.’”
The man also said his car was totaled.
The owner of the Xterra wrote to the court in September to say her vehicle also was totaled.
“I cried and was so upset,” she wrote. “It was very difficult for me to pay attention in class because all I could think of was we had just paid off that car and couldn’t afford another one because I can’t afford payments.”
A restitution hearing has been set for Oct. 21.