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D.C. teen sentenced to youth detention for Juneteenth fatal shooting

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A 16-year-old found guilty in a fatal shooting at a Juneteenth music festival in D.C. last year appeared in court for sentencing Thursday and was ordered confined to a youth detention facility until his 21st birthday.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Andrea L. Hertzfeld, who convicted the teen of second-degree murder in September during a bench trial, emphasized that she was imposing the “maximum sentence under D.C. law,” because the youth was charged as a juvenile.

The youth was accused of shooting into a crowd at 14th and U streets NW on June 19, 2022, as hundreds of concertgoers listened to music at a day-long outdoor festival known as Moechella. Chase Poole, 15, was killed and three other people, including a D.C. police officer assigned to crowd control, were wounded.

Juvenile court proceedings are not open to the public. The Washington Post was allowed to attend the youth’s hearings on the condition that his name not be published.

Poole’s mother said in a victim impact statement that her son, the eldest of eight, dreamed of moving his family to California and establishing his own long-distance trucking company.

“He was just beginning his teen life,” she wrote. “He was going to be the next Black president.” She criticized “parents, police, prosecutors” for failing “an entire generation” by allowing adults and teens back on the streets after gun arrests.

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“If they want to fire guns,” she told the judge, “they should be sent off to war where they can fire guns and defend our country.”

During the trial, defense attorney Lydia Wade argued that police had arrested the wrong person and that her client, although he was at the festival, was not the shooter. At Thursday’s sentencing, Wade said that before the shooting, the youth had been “bullied” by other teens in school, which led to the gunfire. Wade acknowledged that her client fired the weapon but said he did not intend to hit the three people who were wounded.

In asking Hertzfeld to order the youth confined until he turns 18, not 21, Wade reminded the judge that police found a loaded 9mm handgun in Poole’s waistband. The defense lawyer and one of the teen’s teachers said that the youth, who was on his school’s chess team, hopes to attend college and study journalism. Wade said her client “thrived” despite growing up in a violent neighborhood and was still traumatized after the death of a brother.

But Hertzfeld interjected, saying that a psychological report by a court social services worker suggested that the youth showed no remorse or empathy for the victim’s family.

The youth told the judge that if he had not shot Poole, then Poole would have shot him. A sister of the convicted teen stood up and yelled support for her brother, using an expletive. “What sense does this make?” she said before being ushered out of the courtroom by a deputy U.S. marshal. “You all are punishing him for protecting himself.”

Source: Washington Post

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