Teen accused in downtown attack says he wants to be a 'better man'

Teen accused in downtown attack says he wants to be a 'better man'
Teen suspect in juvenile court

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A 17-year-old accused of beating and robbing a woman in a downtown parking garage told a juvenile court judge that he wants to become a better man.

He walked into court Wednesday morning shackled and slumped down in a chair next to his defense attorney. Cleveland 19 is not identifying the teen, as he is a minor and was in juvenile court.

The teen faces 36 counts, more than 30 of those are felonies, and some of those felonies are first-degree felonies -- like kidnapping and aggravated robbery.

"We've had long discussions," Judge Denise Rini said to the teen. "I thought you were really going on the right track."

The teen is accused, among other things, of beating and robbing a woman in a Playhouse Square parking garage earlier this month. She told Cleveland 19 the teen bashed her head into a concrete pole before stealing her purse in the middle of the day. She said she didn't understand why the teen, who has a years-long criminal history, wasn't in jail at the time she says he attacked her.

The suspect's mom and godmother were also in court Wednesday morning. His mom told the judge her son had suffered from mental and emotional issues for much of his life and is subject to peer pressure.

"I'm a working mother, I work, I try to provide for him, it's just peer pressure and the crowd he hangs with," his mom told Rini.

She said she thinks her son's downward spiral began after he was shot twice, in the thigh and calf, and kidnapped.

"If I could take my son's place and sit right there I would," she told Rini.

Rini responded: "He's a big boy -- he knows right from wrong."

The mother said she thinks she's failed her son and believes that he is not guilty of the charges against him.

"I know 100 percent that he didn't commit these crimes that he was alleged to commit by himself, if he was alleged, I can almost guarantee that," the teen's mom said.

Rini pressed: "You're saying if he did it he probably had other people with him?"

"If he did it," the suspect's mom replied.

The young man's attorney requested that he be released from juvenile detention.

"He's certainly a scared young man," the attorney said. "He's looking at his life ahead of him and he wants to try to be able to continue on the path that he was on."

Rini denied that request, remanding the teen to custody, likely at least until his next court hearing next month.

The 17-year-old addressed the courtroom several times during the hearing, saying at one point: "I want to become a better man, I want to be a role model for my little sister."

Rini told the teen that with some of the charges he faces, if during a hearing she determines that there is evidence that he committed the crime, that the charges will be automatically transferred to adult court.

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