NEWS- Confusing: Bomb case bond rejected?
The secretive proceedings that convicted four Albemarle County teenagers of plotting to blow up two high schools continue to be closed, even outside Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.
An April 27 Albemarle Circuit Court bond hearing for the 15-year-old Albemarle High student convicted in March on two felony counts to blow up a school was closed, the Daily Progress reports. The teen is appealing his conviction.
Judge Paul Peatross granted its request to close the bond hearing after the defense argued that the proceedings were traumatizing the youth.
Peatross took under advisement the request to free the teen, who's been locked up since February 1. The boy was not home the week following the hearing, but no one involved with the case will confirm that the bond request was denied.
The 15-year-old's father referred calls to the teen's newest lawyer, David Bruns, who said he couldn't comment because there was a gag in place.
However, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe said there was no gag order; the hearing was closed "pursuant to the juvenile statutes." She also refused to say how the judge ruled on the bond request.
When the 15-year-old and two Jack Jouett Middle School 13-year-olds were convicted March 28 in a closed court proceeding, the commonwealth's attorney refused to reveal the outcome of the hearing and talked of a "court order"– leading to erroneous reports that a gag was in place.
Two days later, a Juvenile and Domestic Relations clerk said the 15-year-old had been convicted. And after a request from the prosecution, the clerk's office later revealed the 13-year-olds also had been convicted.
A 17-year-old Western Albemarle student pleaded guilty to two felony charges and could be held until he's 21.
The case has sparked community concerns since a February 3 police press conference announced a plot to blow up Western and Albemarle high schools that allegedly was concocted on the Internet. With the trial closed and no evidence produced, the lack of information upon which the convictions were based has also puzzled some citizens .
Attorney Bill Hicks has insisted his 15-year-old client was convicted solely on his statement to police, which took place without legal counsel or his parents, an interrogation so stressful that the boy "would have confessed to the Kennedy assassination," his father says.
Will the appeal be open? Attorney Bruns tells the Daily Progress that if the case goes before a jury, it will be open. But Terry Meeks in the Albemarle County Clerk's office says unless the juvenile is certified as an adult, the trial will be closed. She referred calls to Commonwealth's Attorney Jim Camblos, and a staffer there said all proceeding are closed, closed, closed until a judge rules otherwise.
Albemarle Circuit Court is the scene of the 15-year-old convicted bomb plotter's appeal, but like its sister juvenile court, proceedings so far remain closed and information contradictory.
PHOTO BY COURTENEY STUART