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The three DYRS wards who were charged in Montgomery County in connection with the killing were 18 years old at the time and each had been arrested at least eight times previously.

Saunders was first charged in 2003, when he was 11, with first-degree and second-degree child sex offenses. Court papers show his record also includes an arrest at 12 years old for armed robbery, purse snatching and multiple arrests for assault and theft.

Deontra Gray had been charged starting in 2007 with, among other things, carrying a dangerous weapon, theft from auto, gun possession, burglary and unlawful entry.

Sharif Lancaster faced charges including stolen auto, gun possession, burglary and cocaine distribution. He had also fled custody. His mother, Artura Williams, was charged with using Mr. Betts‘ stolen credit card at a grocery store the day after the killing.

Lancaster pleaded guilty last week to charges of using a handgun during the robbery of Mr. Betts and faces 35 years in prison at sentencing in February.

- Eric D. Foreman, a ward of the city known to police as a gang member, told witnesses he “wanted to go pull a move” before he attacked 31-year-old Neil Godleski on Aug. 22.

Mr. Godleski, a Catholic University student, was bicycling shortly after midnight through Sherman Circle in Northwest on his way home after an evening shift at the restaurant where he worked as a waiter.

Witnesses said Foreman, 16 years old at the time, fired four or five times at Mr. Godleski. After falling from his bicycle, Mr. Godleski tried to get up. Foreman shot him at least twice more at close range, according to court records.

The robbery and brutal killing netted $60.

Foreman was arrested on Sept. 23. His next court hearing is in February.

A regional problem

The slayings of Ms. Marcum, Mr. Betts and Mr. Godleski, widely publicized for their brutality and their shocking nature, show that DYRS youth violence is a regional problem with the potential to affect people’s lives in a disturbingly random fashion.

John Walker, the immediate past president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 383, which represents DYRS employees, said the trend toward random and sometimes deadly attacks shows that juvenile crime knows no boundaries.

“There’s no need to go knock over ‘old Luther Jackson’ who lives next door in the ‘hood,” Mr. Walker said in a recent interview. “These kids have moved on to greener pastures. Next, they will start to target tourists. I’ve been saying it for years.”

The extent to which DYRS wards are involved in homicides and serious crimes beyond the District’s borders is unknown. The shortcoming came up in a review of DYRS performed by city Attorney General Peter J. Nickles and released in July.

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