A 14-year-old boy told North Charleston police he gunned down a schoolmate in February because he was beaten up and robbed of a gold necklace with a Jesus pendant, according to court testimony Wednesday.
Investigators haven't verified that motive, but they have witnesses and other evidence tying young Derrell Green to the execution-style killing of 17-year-old Larry Maybank on Bonds Avenue, Detective Alan Kramitz testified.
His testimony came during a Family Court hearing to determine whether Green will be tried as an adult in Maybank's Feb. 5 slaying, as prosecutors are seeking. Green's lawyers want him tried as a juvenile in Family Court to keep him from facing the possibility of a long stretch in an adult prison.
Family Court Judge Judy McMahon found that prosecutors had sufficient probable cause to proceed with the murder case, but she has yet not ruled on moving it to adult court. The hearing continues today.
Green, now 15, is accused of shooting Maybank twice in the back with a stolen .38-caliber revolver after school let out at Daniel Jenkins Academy, which caters to students with discipline problems. Witnesses identified Green as the triggerman and told police the boy had shown off the gun on the way to school that morning, Kramitz testified.
Police arrested Green at his nearby home a short time later. They found him sitting with a friend on a living room couch watching television, Kramitz said. He initially denied any involvement in the killing and told police he didn't even know Maybank, he said.
Several hours later, Green gave a second statement to police in which he admitted to the shooting, Kramitz said. The boy told police he stole the loaded gun from his cousins while staying with them the previous summer near Ravenel. He stated that he retrieved the pistol from a hiding place under an abandoned house on Feb. 5, shot Maybank and then tossed the gun in a field as he ran from the scene, Kramitz said.
Green claimed that Maybank and other teens had "ganged" him a month earlier, punching and stomping him before stealing his gold chain, Kramitz said. Green never reported the attack to police or his parents, and investigators have not determined whether it even occurred, he said.
Police haven't found the murder weapon or the camouflage jacket Green was wearing the day of the shooting, Kramitz said. But in addition to eyewitnesses to the shooting, detectives uncovered video surveillance footage from the school that shows Green and some friends following Maybank and another teen down Bonds Avenue that afternoon, Kramitz said.
The tape shows one boy passing something to Green just before shots were fired and Green running from the area after the shooting, nearly getting hit by a car in the process, Kramitz said. The tape did not capture the shooting itself, he said.
Green, dressed in jail grays and shackled at the wrists and ankles, showed little emotion as he listened to the testimony. His attorneys described him as a child who still has a spark of hope and a love for "Tom and Jerry" cartoons.
Megan Ehrlich, one of his public defenders, did her best to poke holes in the state's case. She pointed to the lack of a murder weapon and questioned how Green was able to get through metal detectors at the school if he had a gun. She also drew testimony about a black hooded sweatshirt police seized that had gunshot residue on it. A friend who was with Green that afternoon was said to have been wearing all black. That friend is charged as an accessory in the case.
Ehrlich and public defender David Haselden also asked the judge to bar the The Post and Courier from the courtroom after Kramitz and a pathologist had testified. They argued that press coverage of additional testimony from a probation officer, a psychiatrist and others would unfairly invade their client's privacy and that the publicity could jeopardize his right to a fair trial.
John Kerr, a lawyer for the newspaper, countered that the state Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that the public has a right to know what occurs in these hearings and that concerns about pre-trial publicity are not a valid reason for denying access to the proceedings.
McMahon allowed the newspaper to stay for all but one witness, a psychiatrist the defense plans today to call as an expert to discuss, in part, potential issues surrounding Green's confession.
The last witness on Wednesday, juvenile probation officer Hannah Hyrne, testified that Green ended up on probation in September of last year after he was arrested for disturbing school and running away from home. Though he comes from a close-knit, supportive family, Green had been disruptive at home and in school, acting out in class, mouthing off to teachers, violating curfew and causing other problems, she said.
A psychiatric program at Medical University Hospital diagnosed Green as having "oppositional defiance disorder" and attention deficit disorder, Hyrne said. He was referred to state mental health counselors and placed in the county's Drug Court to deal with marijuana use. Green's seemed to show progress and posted passing grades after entering Drug Court in the fall, she said.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or email@example.com.