Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Trials set for three youths who brought guns to school

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Three students charged after a gun discharged during a botched handgun sale in an Albert Einstein High School restroom will be tried in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

Prosecutors filed charging documents in Circuit Court on Friday to move the case there from Montgomery County District Court.

Jose Ramos, 16, Geovani Lazabara, 17, and Raul Garcia, 20, all of Silver Spring, are set to have a preliminary hearing on June 13. The trial is scheduled for June 23.

All three are charged as adults.

Lazabara and Ramos were charged on three separate misdemeanor counts of the sale, transfer and disposal of a stolen, regulated firearm, according to Circuit Court documents.

Lazabara also faces three misdemeanor counts for the possession of regulated firearms while under the age of 21; Ramos faces two counts for possession of regulated firearms while under the age of 21, according to court documents.

The penalties could add up to 30 years and $60,000 for Lazabara and 25 years and $50,000 for Ramos, said Seth Zucker, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office.

Garcia was charged with one misdemeanor count of possession of regulated firearms while under the age of 21, one misdemeanor count for the sale, transfer and disposal of stolen, regulated firearms, and three misdemeanor counts for the conspiracy to commit a sale, transfer and disposal of a stolen regulated firearm, charging documents said.

Garcia faces up to 25 years and $50,000, Zucker said.

Two 15-year-old boys, a 15-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy were charged as juveniles in the case.

The guns had been stolen from the 12300 block of Dalewood Drive in Silver Spring on April 6.

Three loaded handguns — a .45-caliber, a .22-caliber, and a .38-caliber — were found at the Kensington school April 9 after a 14-year-old boy unintentionally fired one of the guns, lodging a bullet in the wall of a bathroom stall during the middle of a school day.

The weapons were brought to the school with the intent to sell to other students.

Police said the case had ties to gang activities, but declined to provide further details.

Zucker also declined to comment on the details of the case.

After the shot was fired, a teacher and student reported it to the principal, and the school was placed on lockdown.

Charges against Walter Martinez, 21, an Einstein graduate, were dropped on May 7. Zucker said there was insufficient evidence to support the charges of conspiracy to commit burglary, theft over $500 and possession of stolen credit cards.

Police said a search warrant was issued April 17 for Martinez’s home, in the 3000 block of Medway Street in Wheaton, as part of the ongoing investigation. Police found property stolen at the same time as the guns in the house and they arrested Martinez, said David Felsen, an attorney familiar with the case.

Martinez is the older brother of one of the 15-year-old boys charged as a juvenile in the case, Felsen said.

‘‘We greatly appreciate the state taking a second look at this case,” Felsen said Monday. ‘‘They really did act appropriately, and we really appreciate their effort in that analysis.”