The parents of a teen-ager accused of killing a deaf man and wounding his brother were ordered Tuesday to serve probation and perform community service for helping the youth flee, authorities said.
Joseph Paul Bellinger Sr. and Phyllis Mary Goodman last month agreed not to contest charges that they arranged for their son Joey to flee to the Upstate New York community of Cassville, where he stayed for more than a month with a family friend.
The youth, who was arrested March 2 in New York after an intensive search, is being prosecuted as an adult in the Jan. 28 slaying of Cesar Vieira, 30, and the wounding of Edward Vieira, 25, after a traffic confrontation in Granada Hills. He pleaded not guilty to the charges last week in San Fernando Municipal Court.
Joseph Bellinger Sr., 40, of Long Beach pleaded no contest June 26 to a felony count of aiding and abetting a suspected felon. He could have been sent to County Jail for 30 days under terms of a plea agreement reached last month, Deputy Dist. Atty. Allan Fork said.
Instead, Long Beach Superior Court Judge Michael Nott placed the father on probation for three years and ordered him to perform 200 hours of community service, Fork said.
The senior Bellinger was also ordered to undergo counseling and pay a $1,000 fine, Fork said.
While Joey was in New York, his father told police that he would turn in his son only if authorities promised that the boy would not be prosecuted as an adult. Prosecutors refused to make such a promise.
Goodman, 37, of Long Beach, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count of the same charge and was sentenced Tuesday to two years probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, Fork said. She was fined $100 and ordered to undergo counseling, he said.
Both parents faced a maximum sentence of three years in prison, Fork said. But they were given more lenient sentences because they have no prior criminal history, he said.
However, Fork said the senior Bellinger should have received the 30-day sentence because of the effort invested by a variety of law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, to track down the boy.
"They were basically sending a kid who was wanted for murder to this baby-sitter in New York," Fork said.
The prosecutor said both parents wrote letters to the judges presiding over their cases expressing remorse. They also attributed their troubles in part to the 1987 murder of Joey's sister, according to Fork.
Joey Bellinger, who was in a car with other youths, exchanged insults with the deaf brothers, who were on a motorcycle, and shot at them after the vehicles pulled into a parking lot, police said. Joey's friends said in a Juvenile Court hearing two weeks ago that Joey appeared to fire in panic and that the deaf brothers were menacing him.
But prosecutors said Joey was in no immediate danger when he fired at the brothers.