HAVERHILL — A juvenile boy who stands accused of shooting a man in the face during an attempted robbery hid himself from view during a pretrial hearing held in Lawrence juvenile court Monday.
Although there was some doubt in the eyes of the judge as to his being positively identified as the shooter, the boy continues to be held without bail.
Armani Maximus Huacon, 16, of 19 Ford St., was declared dangerous by a judge during a hearing Jan. 13, according to Essex County District Attorney spokeswoman Carrie Kimball. It is unclear where he is being held.
Police say that last October, Huacon and Edison Manzueta, 19, of Methuen, approached a parked car in the city's Mount Washington neighborhood to meet a man from Lawrence who believed he was there to sell them marijuana. According to the police report, Manzueta — known as “Beetlejuice” — and Huacon tried to rob the man of his money.
According to the report, Huacon came up to the passenger side of the car where the man was sitting, pulled out a black handgun and told him to "run it, give me everything you got."
When Huacon's co-defendant, Manzueta, was arraigned for the crime, Assistant District Attorney John DePaulo said the bullet fired by Huacon fragmented into three pieces, broke the man's jaw, exited the other side of his face and grazed his skull.
Huacon is a juvenile but faces charges as a youthful offender. As a result, his court proceedings — usually held behind closed doors — are open to the public and the media.
According to the Essex County District Attorney's office, a youthful offender is subject to punishment as an adult. If Huacon is found guilty, he could be sentenced to a state prison rather than the Department of Youth Services.
At Monday's hearing, defense lawyer Andrew Zeiberg successfully argued before Judge Kerry Ahern to have his client, Huacon, remain behind a portable chalk board, saying he has not been positively identified as the shooter.
Assistant District Attorney Timothy Prather argued to have Huacon come out from behind the chalkboard, saying there was evidence that he was the person who pulled the trigger. Prather noted that Huacon was wearing a GPS tracking device that placed him at the scene of the shooting at the time it occurred. He was on parole from the Department of Youth Services, according to a police report.
Prather said there was other evidence, including Huacon's fingerprints on the side of the car where the victim was shot, and that a witness, a woman who was behind the wheel of the car at the time, identified Huacon by the name "Armani." She was, however, unable to positively identify him in a photo array.
"There is no ID question and he should not be shielded from view," Prather argued.
"The identification of who actually pulled the trigger seems to be a live issue at trial," the judge said. "Did anyone actually say it was Armani who pulled the trigger?"
The judge subsequently allowed Armani to remain hidden, but said there could be additional evidence presented at future hearings that could affect whether he can remain hidden.
Prather said there was a lot of video evidence in this case and that he had received additional video evidence that morning, adding that he would be sharing it with the Zeigberg.
The judge scheduled a compliance and election hearing for Feb. 25 and noted there is a bail review hearing scheduled for May 12.
Huacon's co-defendant, Manzueta, is next scheduled to appear in Salem Superior Court Feb. 24 for a pre-trial hearing related to his assault with intent to murder charge.
According to the Essex district attorney's office, youthful offenders are between 14 and 18 years old and have committed a felony offense. Additionally they must meet at least one of the following criteria: have been previously committed to the Department of Youth Services; has committed a certain firearms offense; or has committed an offense which involves the infliction or threat of serious bodily harm.