Home detention ordered for Mercer County teen

Cathy Decker |
Times Record

ALEDO — A 13-year-old boy was put on strict home detention Tuesday, June 12, after appearing before Judge Richard Zimmer in Mercer County Court.

The youth was brought in for questioning May 11 after a .32-caliber antique handgun was found during a routine locker search. There was no ammunition in the gun and no threats were made against anyone at Mercer County Junior High School prior to his arrest.

Zimmer agreed with State’s Attorney Meeghan Lee that home detention would be allowed, with a number of added stipulations.

“He is not to be home alone,” the judge ordered. He also ordered the youth to phone into the Mercer County probation office three times a day during the week — between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m., noon and 1 p.m. and 3 and 4 p.m. The juvenile is also being monitored by the Center for Youth and Family Services.

A follow-up on the case was set for 11:30 a.m. June 25.

“I want to know where we’re at as far as home detention is concerned in two weeks,” said Zimmer.

The minor was officially charged with unlawful use of a weapon at school. He has been under detention at the Mary Davis Home in Galesburg since his first court appearance.

During the juvenile hearing, Lee said, “Home detention is better and safer for the juvenile. We don’t feel he is a danger to himself or anyone else.”

Defense attorney Daniel Dalton said there was “no prior history of delinquency” by the teen.

Lee said her office had received numerous phone calls from area parents — some concerned with their children’s safety and others advising that this was just a childish mistake that was made.

“We’ve got parents that are afraid,” she said.

“I’m going to add another order,” Zimmer said, “He’s not to attend any school at this time.”

Zimmer said he was approving the home detention sentence very reluctantly. “Between the tremendous amount of research by State’s Attorney Lee on your background and your attorney’s arguments I’m going along with this,” he said.

He concluded the court appearance by asking a question: “Refresh my memory. This was an unloaded gun with no ammunition?”

Both defense counselor Dalton and state’s attorney Lee affirmed, “Yes.”

Lee said the state had very few options in this case. “He’s only 13. The law doesn’t allow much against a 13-year-old.”