While most of us were safe at home last Wednesday evening, getting ready for a long Thanksgiving weekend, three women were fighting off sexual assaults from a gang of teenage thugs in and near Powderhorn Park.
One of those four, 16-year-old Macarr Tyree Hill, was charged today with aggravated robbery.[jump]
It might be tough to find the minor's name in press reports now, though.
According to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, police and the boy's grandmother told prosecutors that Hill was 16 years old. In this state, that means at the very least he can expect to have his name made public. And it was, in the juvenile petition that was circulated to reporters before his court hearing.
The rules are different for 14- and 15-year-olds: Their identities are automatically concealed under juvenile court laws.
Before the hearing took place this afternoon, Freeman said that both Hill and his lawyer asserted that he was 15 years old. So to the chagrin of assembled newsies, Hennepin County District Judge Kerry Meyer then closed the hearing to the press as the prosecution, defense lawyer and the judge tried to sort things out.
The short-term upshot: The grandmother, apparently Hill's closest known relative, was ordered to produce his birth certificate.
Meantime, Hill's name went public.
"We can't put the genie back in the bottle," Freeman said this afternoon, adding that the snafu over the boy's age won't impact the county attorney's office prosecution of the case. While Hill faces the robbery charges, the others likely face kidnapping and sexual assault charges.
He expects a hearing to nail down Hill's age sometime next week.
Even though it's legal, many mainstream news organizations have policies against publishing the name of juveniles charged with crimes. Fox 9 published Hill's name this afternoon, based on the juvenile petition information, but then changed his identity to MTH in their online story once the age dispute surfaced.
In case you missed it, the boys with a poor grasp of manhood brandished a gun and sexually assaulted a mother in front of her two kids while they went cross country skiing in the park last Wednesday.
She fought them off, and then away from her 10-year-old and 13-year-old. So they hunted down more victims, trapping two teenage girls in a garage about three blocks from the park. Smart, fast work by Minneapolis park police prevented a pair of rapes at gunpoint.
The mother posted an impassioned letter of thanks to the Powderhorn community on e-Democracy.org for its support, and also dispelled news reports that she had been raped. Today we learned that some of the boys instead forced their fingers into her, and then tried to order her 10-year-old girl to drop her pants before running away.
The 15-year-old and two 14-year-old were arrested the night of the attacks. Hill was arrested later. Police said they weren't looking for anymore suspects: The boys admitted they had attacked and robbed their victims.
Neighborhood residents are planning a peace vigil tomorrow night in the park, and a meeting the following night to double down on efforts to keep their streets safe.