Judge ends electronic monitoring of boys 7, 8 - Quad-Cities Online: Illinois

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Judge ends electronic monitoring of boys 7, 8

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Posted: Friday, August 21, 1998 1:00 am | Updated: 3:40 pm, Mon Apr 21, 2014.

CHICAGO (AP) -- Electronic monitoring devices are no longer needed to keep track of two boys -- ages 7 and 8 -- charged in the death of an 11-year-old girl, a judge says.

Juvenile Court Judge William Hibbler ordered the devices removed Thursday and also said the two boys may leave their homes, where they had been confined, but only if accompanied by parents or grandparents.

``I want adults to have eye contact with them at all times,'' Hibbler told a hearing Thursday.

The body of Ryan Harris, 11, was found July 28. She had been struck in the head, sexually molested and suffocated. Her panties were in her mouth; grass and leaves were stuffed in her nostrils. Police said the boys killed Ryan for her bicycle.

The boys had been ordered confined to their homes for 24 hours a day with the bracelet monitors to keep track of their whereabouts.

The boys did not attend the hearing.

Prosecutors asked Hibbler to order a full-scale psychiatric examination of the two youngsters. Judge Andrew Berman is to rule on that request at a hearing next Friday.

Defense attorneys claimed that showed that prosecutors are backing away from their case against the two boys.

``I think everybody wants to get out of this gracefully,'' said Catherine Ferguson, an assistant public defender who represents the 7-year-old boy.

But Bob Benjamin, a spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office, denied that it signaled any attempt to back away from charges against the two youngsters.

He said that a preliminary psychiatric evaluation had already been ordered, and the state's attorney's office believes that more information is needed.

Defense attorneys also complained that they did not get copies of the police report of the case until after an Aug. 10 hearing at which a judge ruled that there was sufficient evidence to hold the two youngsters on the charges.

They said the report raises doubt about the alleged involvement of the boys and should have been given to them before the hearing. They said they hope to reopen the issue of whether there is enough evidence to support the charges.

Benjamin said that prosecutors were not required to provide the police report to the defense attorneys before the hearing. ``All you have to do at a probable cause hearing is to show probable cause,'' he said.

But attorneys for the 8-year-old said the facts would bear out their contention that there has been a ``rush to judgment'' in the case.

The boys live in adjacent houses in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood -- an area of severe poverty where residents have been all but unanimous in believing the boys are innocent.

``These young kids at best will suffer a stigma for the rest of their lives,'' said attorney R. Eugene Pincham, representing the 8-year-old. ``Englewood will suffer a stigma. The Chicago police department will suffer a stigma ... The public deserves to know the facts of this case.''

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