Lawyer wants to move 15-year-old defendant's case to juvenile court
SHAMOKIN - The attorney for a 15-year-old Shamokin boy charged as an adult in an armed robbery of a cell phone will attempt to have the case moved to juvenile court.
Northumberland County Conflicts Counsel John Broda, who has been assigned to defend Joel Santiago, of 819 E. Dewart St., and originally from Puerto Rico, attempted to have his client released on unsecured bail late Tuesday morning at his preliminary hearing, but his motion was opposed by Assistant District Attorney William Cole and later denied by Magisterial District Judge John Gembic III.
After Santiago agreed to waive his right to a preliminary hearing, Broda told a newspaper reporter he will request to have the case transferred to juvenile court and also plans to seek unsecured bail for Santiago in the Court of Common Pleas within two weeks.
When asked by Gembic if he understood the ramifications of waiving his right to a preliminary hearing, Santiago asked, "What does that mean?" After conferring with Broda for a few minutes, Santiago agreed to waive the case.
Santiago, who spoke softly when responding to a few questions from the judge, said he is an eighth-grade student at Shamokin Area School District and has lived in the area for two years after moving from Puerto Rico.
The young defendant, who had his legs and arms shackled, was wearing sandals, a green hoodie sweatshirt and a Northumberland County Prison jumpsuit.
Gembic allowed Santiago to talk with his mother for several minutes after the court proceeding. Broda also conferred with the defendant's mother and explained to her his intent to move the case to juvenile court and seek a bail reduction. Broda said Santiago's mother, who understands English, agreed with the attorney's next moves in the case.
Santiago is charged by Shamokin Patrolman Raymond Siko II with three felony counts of robbery, a felony of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, two misdemeanor counts of possessing an instrument of crime, and misdemeanors of simple assault and loitering and prowling at night.
Santiago is accused of approaching Daniel McKimm, of 158 N. Eighth St., at about 9:15 p.m. Jan. 6 and telling him he had five seconds to hand over his cell phone while threatening the victim with what appeared to be a handgun.
McKimm, 19, told police he threw his black T-Mobile phone, ran into his home and called police.
A short time later, guns drawn, police took Santiago into custody about six blocks away after they found him lying next to a parked car on Commerce Street between The News-Item and Center City Apartments.
Siko said the weapon allegedly used by Santiago, which was recovered, is a compressed-air pellet gun that is a replica of a semi-automatic handgun.
Santiago also was charged by Siko in connection with vehicle break-ins the same night.
Police said some coins were removed from a Jeep on North Eighth Street owned by Dennis Cavanaugh shortly before Santiago allegedly threatened McKimm with the gun.