- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 28, 2010

A university student was attacked as he bicycled home after working the evening shift at a waterfront restaurant. A school principal was fatally shot in his bedroom in a Maryland suburb. An American University professor was killed in her Maryland home, the unsolved slaying complicated by the arrest less than a day later of a teenager behind the wheel of her stolen car.

These brutal attacks, robberies gone awry, have at least one other thing in common: Juveniles committed to the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) have been charged or identified as suspects.

The crimes, among the highest-profile killings in the region this year, were not included in an analysis by The Washington Times that found that one in five of all homicides in the District from Sept. 1, 2009, through Aug. 31 involved a youth in custody of DYRS either as a suspect or a victim.

The reason? They occurred either beyond the District’s borders or since the conclusion of the analysis.

Since The Times concluded its analysis on Aug. 31, at least 10 people age 22 or younger who were arrested for homicides in the city were either actively committed to the District’s custody or their commitment had recently expired. Four more were victims of homicides.

Despite acknowledgment by the interim director of DYRS, the city’s police chief and the mayor-elect that the deadly trend of DYRS youth-involved killings must be addressed, officials are hard-pressed to assure the public that they know how to put a stop to it - or where the trend will lead.

Among the DYRS youths:

- Deandrew Hamlin, an 18-year-old with a juvenile record that includes car theft and destruction of property, was arrested in the District last month for driving a Jeep stolen from Sue Ann Marcum, the American University professor found dead in her Bethesda home a day earlier.

Ms. Marcum, 52, was beaten and asphyxiated in what police are investigating as a homicide in the course of a burglary.

Mr. Hamlin waived an extradition hearing in the District last week and is expected to face charges related to the car theft in Montgomery County. Police have said the keys to the car were stolen from inside Ms. Marcum’s home, and they have identified Mr. Hamlin as a suspect in her killing, but he has not been charged with the homicide.

- Three of four young men arrested in connection with the April killing in Montgomery County of D.C. middle-school Principal Brian Betts were wards of the city.

Mr. Betts was found fatally shot in an upstairs bedroom of his Silver Spring, Md., home on April 15 after making contact with one of the youths on a sex-chat line.

Alante Saunders was sentenced to 40 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to the murder, though he maintained that he and his accomplices did not go to Mr. Betts‘ home intending to kill him.

Mr. Betts‘ television, an iPod and a computer were taken from his house. His credit cards were taken and used, prosecutors said, and his sport utility vehicle was stolen and located days later about 14 miles away in the District.

“Drugs was the powerful force in this situation, and I am very sorry,” Saunders told the court.

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