EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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February 27, 2013

No bail for local teen in machete attack

HAVERHILL — The lawyer for a Haverhill High School senior charged with stabbing two people with a machete said his client is three months away from graduating high school and asked that he be released so he can continue with his classes.

Attorney Jawara Griffin, who represented Joan Manuel Mendez-Sanchez at a hearing yesterday in Haverhill District Court, said his client’s last report card from Haverhill High was all A’s and B’s, with the exception of a computer science class, which he said Mendez-Sanchez failed.

Griffin handed Judge Patricia Dowling a copy of Mendez-Sanchez’ report card and asked that he be released on $2,000 cash bail and on a number of conditions, including pretrial probation, electronic monitoring, as well as a curfew.

“There are conditions that would keep the community safe,” Griffin said.

He added that one of Mendez-Sanchez’ high school teachers provided him with a letter attesting to his character and that he has been a good student in class. He also said Mendez-Sanchez’ mother and a group of his friends were in the courtroom to show support.

“He has absolutely no juvenile or adult criminal record,” Griffin said.

Dowling disagreed saying the facts of the case are “troubling” and that there are no conditions that will secure the safety of the public. Dowling ordered Mendez-Sanchez held without bail. He must appear March 27 for a probable cause hearing.

Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said the office of District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett is reviewing the case for possible indictment.

During yesterday’s hearing, Griffin said three witnesses who were questioned by police on the night of the fight changed their stories when questioned during a follow-up investigation.

“Clearly there were some inconsistencies with their stories,” Griffin said, adding that police continue to investigate the stabbings.

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