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MEDIA COURTHOUSE — Charges were dropped against one of the Upper Darby juveniles charged in a Jan. 11 bullying incident, while six others remained detained, five on misdemeanor offenses.
The seven defendants — ranging in age from 13 to 17 — were all in county custody, accused in the assault of Nadin Khoury.
One of the juveniles, a 17-year-old, video recorded the others hitting, kicking and shoving the 13-year-old victim in a tree, then hanging him by his coat on a fence, police said.
The victim and the defendants are all students at the Upper Darby School District’s Opportunity Center, an alternative school for students with behavioral issues.
Felony kidnapping and aggravated assault charges were dismissed against five of the juvenile defendants during separate pretrial hearings Thursday before Common Pleas Judge Kathrynann W. Durham.
The five entered an admission, which in adult court would be a guilty plea, to false imprisonment, reckless endangerment, simple assault and conspiracy, all misdemeanors.
Assistant District Attorney Dominick Spigarelli asked Khoury if he agreed with agreement to drop the more serious charges in exchange for the admission of the three misdemeanors.
“You wished me to make this offer to these juveniles?” Spigarelli asked.
“Yes,” replied the youngster.
The question-and-answer session was repeated for each defendant.
One of the juveniles, a 16-year-old boy, asked for a trial.
Public defender David DiPasqua said his client was not guilty of the charges, adding that the videotape of the incident would prove him innocent.
“He has been falsely accused of committing various offenses,” said DiPasqua. “There will be trial testimony my client did not participate in this incident by multiple witnesses.”
DiPasqua said that the video would show his client helping the victim. He added that the victim’s mother hugged and apologized to his client and said his client was willing to take a lie detector test.
The trial was scheduled for Feb. 17.
All charges were dropped against the 17-year-old boy who recorded the incident. Spigarelli asked the victim about the 17-year-old’s involvement in the incident.
“You’ve indicated to me that (he) was not involved in the assault on you in any way, shape or form. Is that correct,” Spigarelli asked.
The victim said it was.
Attorney Douglas Smith asked that his client be released. Durham said that since all charges were dropped, he was free to go.
Durham ordered the five juveniles who entered admissions, along with the 16-year-old demanding a trial to remain in the juvenile detention center until their next court proceeding. A detention hearing will be held for the five on Feb. 22.
All of the juvenile defendants were ordered to stay away from the victim and his family.
Defense attorney Tracie M. Burns, who is representing one of the defendants, said her client has accepted responsibility for his actions.
“It was a fair outcome,” she said.
One of the defendants, a 15-year-old who entered an admission, stood before Durham and said, “I’m sorry for what I did.”
That boy’s attorney, Daniel McGarrigle, later said the outcome was “an appropriate resolution.”
“These are the appropriate charges,” he said, adding that some of the comments made by police “ramped up” the situation and turned it into something it really wasn’t.
He declined to name any police officer or official in particular, but said labeling the teenagers thugs and hoodlums was over the top.
“He is a 15-year-old who made a mistake,” McGarrigle said of his client. “Who hasn’t made a mistake when they were 15?”
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