WENATCHEE — A juvenile court commissioner said Tuesday police wrongly detained a youth suspect after a fight among teens two months ago in Wenatchee in which someone fired off a handgun.
Chelan County Court Commissioner Tracy Brandt granted a motion by the 16-year-old’s attorney to suppress evidence seized in his May 19 arrest, carried out while police investigated a fight between roughly seven males that took place two days earlier.
In that May 17 fight in the 500 block of South Franklin Avenue, one participant allegedly drew a handgun and fired two shots into the air. No one was injured.
The case against the 16-year-old defendant must now be reviewed to decide if it should be amended or dismissed, said Chelan County juvenile prosecutor Allen Blackmon. The youth is the only person arrested or charged thus far in relation to the Franklin Street incident, Wenatchee Police Capt. Brian Chance said Wednesday, and the investigation is still ongoing.
While probing the fight, Wenatchee police said they identified the 16-year-old from photos and videos taken at or near the scene, and arrested him. He made no admissions during an interview, and when searched he allegedly had $256 cash and four grams of methamphetamine in his pockets. Prosecutors charged him with malicious mischief and possession of meth with intent to deliver.
But the youth’s lawyer, Brian Chase of Quincy, argued the photos and security video used as a basis for arrest bore no resemblance to him, beyond depicting a Hispanic juvenile. The boy’s parent also told police he had been at home during the time of the gunfire, and no participants or witnesses in the incident had identified him by name.
In her ruling, Brandt said written police reports in the case were inconsistent with testimony given at the Tuesday hearing by Detective Kirk Drolet and Corporal Brian Bolz. She said there was no evidence that the youth had taken part in any criminal mischief the night of May 17, and agreed to suppress evidence seized at his arrest.
Brandt ordered the youth released from juvenile detention, where he’s been held since June 6 for failing to attend school programs after his initial arrest.
The youth's attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Asked about Brandt's ruling, Chance said, "That's her opinion, and that's why we have several layers within the justice system." He noted Brandt previously found probable cause to detain the suspect when he was first brought to juvenile court May 20.
Chance said it's not known when the gunfire case might be resolved. "It’s difficult to say, simply because a lot of people involved in this incident are just difficult to find. A lot of times, they don’t want to be found, so we just have to take what time we can, and at some point, and the decision will be made to continue attempts or cease the investigation."
Jefferson Robbins: 679-7013