Hearing needed to determine age of Powderhorn assault suspectby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — A court hearing will be held to determine the age of one of the four teenage boys charged in last week's sexual assault and robbery in a Minneapolis Park, according to the Hennepin County attorney's office.
The office Tuesday released the court petition against a suspect officials believed to be 16 years old. The law allows prosecutors to name a 16-year-old charged with a violent crime. But the petition lists two conflicting birthdates for the suspect, which would make him either 15 or 16.
"We believed at the time that the information was presented to us, and up to about 30 minutes ago, that one of the juveniles was in fact 16," said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. " Accordingly, we sent you copies of the petition of the 16-year-old. That was in error."
Suspects 15 years old and younger have to be certified to stand trial as adults. Three other suspects are under the age of 16, and Freeman says his office will seek adult trials for all four suspects.
The young man named in the petition has been charged with three felony counts of first-degree aggravated robbery. MPR News will not name him until he is certified to stand trial as an adult.
According to the charging document, on the night before Thanksgiving, the teenager, whose initials are MTH, and three other young men robbed and sexually assaulted five people at gunpoint. MTH is not accused of engaging in criminal sexual misconduct, nor is he accused of brandishing the gun.
The petition says the spree began at Powderhorn Park, where the young men approached a 45-year-old woman, her 13-year-old son and her 10-year-old daughter, who were cross-country skiing. The woman told police one of the suspects pointed a silver handgun at her son, knocked him to the ground and asked him to empty his pockets.
Two of the boys forced their hands down the woman's pants. When they went after the 10-year-old daughter, the woman told them, "No, not my daughter."
The petition says the suspects ran away and accosted two girls, ages 16 and 18, on the street not far from the park. One of the young men allegedly flashed the gun and ordered the girls into a garage, where the suspects demanded that the girls hand over their cell phones and take off their clothes.
The petition says the suspects exposed themselves to the girls and began assaulting them. It says one of the girls managed to escape and ran outside screaming, then flagged down Minneapolis police officers who were responding to the assault in the park.
According to the petition, MTH admitted to police that he and the others met earlier in the evening and planned to rob people with a gun. MTH also admitted that he watched the other suspects sexually assault the woman in Powderhorn Park.