A 17-year-old San Carlos boy charged in connection with a pipe-bomb explosion that killed a high-school classmate will be held at Juvenile Hall until it is determined whether he should stand trial as an adult, a Juvenile Court judge ruled Tuesday.
Because the judge made the ruling in Juvenile Court, members of the media were forbidden from attending the proceedings. However, Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Amador said after the ruling that Daniel Smith, who was picked up by authorities Friday, denied the charges, and that Juvenile Judge Norbert Ehrenfreund ruled that Smith not be released to the custody of his parents.
Smith and two other boys, Kevin Ham and Paul Giacalone, both 17, were driving to Smith's home about 3:30 a.m. July 29 when a homemade pipe bomb exploded as Ham held it out the car window, killing him and slightly wounding Smith and Giacalone. The explosion occurred in the Del Cerro neighborhood of San Diego.
A Cache of Explosives
Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Amador said no explosive materials were found in Giacalone's home, but a cache of explosives were found in Smith's home. Giacalone has not been charged in the case.
A fitness hearing will be held Sept. 14 to determine whether Smith should be tried as an adult. Amador said that although Ham was involved in making the pipe bomb, "it could easily have been some passer-by" who was killed.
If a judge determines that Smith should be tried as a juvenile, his trial will begin Sept. 21, Amador said.
Smith has been charged with six felony counts stemming from his involvement with pipe bombs, the most serious of which is igniting an explosive device causing injury. One of the counts alleges that he ignited a bomb that damaged a car on Wandermere Court in San Carlos July 21. If he is convicted as an adult of all six charges, he faces up to 10 years in prison.
Smith's attorney, Paul Danielsen, said after Tuesday's proceedings, "I am going to vigorously and aggressively defend this lawsuit. I have no other comment."
Gag Order Issued
Amador said Ehrenfreund issued a gag order prohibiting him from detailing the arguments he and Danielsen made to the judge. Before the hearing, Laura Whitcomb Halgren, an attorney representing the Union-Tribune Co., argued that state law mandates that reporters be allowed to cover Juvenile Court proceedings if they have a "direct and legitimate" interest in the hearing.
In addition, Halgren argued that because Smith's name has been printed in the newspapers and his picture has been shown on TV, restricting press access to the hearing would not protect him.
Halgren said that allowing press access to the hearing would provide a "catharsis" for other people concerned with the case, particularly Ham's friends and relatives. "It is important for them to know how the case is handled in the court system," she said.
An open hearing would also educate the public about Juvenile Court, improve the quality of the proceedings, discourage perjury and inspire confidence in Juvenile Court and courts in general, Halgren said.
Judge Ehrenfreund, however, ruled that allowing press access might jeopardize Smith's future because he would be branded a juvenile delinquent.
"I'm going to be cautious. I'm going to respect the wishes of the minor, and the possibility of his rehabilitation--I don't want to get in the way of that," Ehrenfreund said.
Ehrenfreund's ruling applies only to Tuesday's proceedings.