Police in Tennessee have reported that two boys were taken into custody on Feb. 21 in connection with several acts of vandalism in Etowah. The boys are accused of damaging 77 vehicles at a McMinn County auto outlet and vandalizing a nearby utility tractor. The boys were apprehended by McMinn County Sheriff's Office deputies on County Road 197 following a short investigation. After being processed, the two boys were transported to the Bradley County Juvenile Detention Facility.
The owner of the auto outlet provided police with security camera footage of two teenagers vandalizing 77 of the 115 vehicles on the lot. Some of the vehicles, including some classic muscle cars, were badly damaged during the 70-minute rampage. The auto dealer estimates that the broken windows, dented panels and smashed headlights will cost at least $250,000 to repair.
The boys have been charged with trespassing and vandalism, and the auto dealer says that he wants them to be tried as adults. Prosecutors had yet to decide how the case will be handled as of press time, but the boys were scheduled to appear before a juvenile court on Feb. 25. The boys will likely face far more severe penalties if tried as adults.
Criminal defense attorneys representing clients under the age of 18 may argue stridently for the case to be heard by a juvenile court. Juvenile court judges are familiar with the challenges facing young people, and they will likely focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. However, juvenile courts have no juries, and defense attorneys may not object to cases involving minors being heard before an adult criminal court in certain situations.