Buchanan student’s confession allegedly coerced
Published 2:28 am Friday, March 24, 2006
By By ANDY HAMILTON / Niles Daily Star
ST. JOSEPH - A female student allegedly responsible for authoring threatening letters in Buchanan High School was in court Wednesday at the Berrien County Trial Court in St. Joseph.
Berrien County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Russell Szwabowski said the hearing was held to authorize a petition to bring the juvenile to court and to determine whether the suspect should remain in the juvenile center while an investigation into the matter could be continued.
Family Division Administrator for the Berrien County Trial Court Elvin Gonzalez said the suspect has been charged with communicating a false bomb threat and threatening an act of terrorism. For adults, communicating a false bomb threat is a four year felony and threatening an act of terrorism is a five year felony. But, Gonzalez said the juvenile system allows for a wider range of charges.
Szwabowski also said there was information provided to the court stating the juvenile had indicated that her original statements given on March 16, when she allegedly confessed to the crimes, were coerced. But, Szwabowski said that particular issue was not specifically addressed by the court and will be part of the continued investigation.
Gonzalez said Judge Mabel Mayfield of the Family Division of the Berrien County Trial Court ordered probation officer Mark Teachot to screen the suspect to see if she is eligible for the home detention and tether program.
Gonzalez also said Mayfield ordered the suspect to remain in the juvenile center until she can pay 10 percent of the $20,000 bond.
An arraignment date for the suspect has been set for Tuesday, April 11 at 1:30 p.m. in Berrien County Trial Court in St. Joseph.