Autistic Teen Charged With Attempted Murder

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[From KCRA News, Sacramento.]
http://www.thekcrachannel.com/sac/news/localnews/stories/news-localnews-1222
14320020205-160255.htmlA 16-year-old boy has been charged as an adult for stabbing woman at a Sacramento area Starbucks, but the boy’s parents say that’s not fair because he’s autistic.

David Maggi admits that he attacked a woman with a knife, but his attorney believes extenuating circumstances should warrant treatment, not punishment. “He’s developmentally disabled. He’s autistic. He’s borderline mentally retarded.” Maggi’s attorney, Bob Blasier, said.

According to police, last June, Maggi somehow got a hold of a knife and slipped out of a Natomas group home. He walked three miles to a Starbucks, where he stabbed a customer in the back.

Now he faces charges of attempted murder. If convicted, he’ll go to state prison.”To hold David criminally responsible for what he did would not be fair because he doesn’t understand what he did,” Maggi’s mother, Joan Maggi said. Maggi’s parents said that he needs treatment not a prison term. But the husband of the woman he stabbed, Jeff Volp, isn’t so sure.

“I know there’s been some talk about his autism and retardation. It’s a tough call. The fact remains that he committed a violent crime and intentionally tried to kill my wife,” Volp said.

“It’s my opinion that this case really belongs in juvenile court given all the surrounding circumstances and Mr. Maggi’s disabilities,” Blasier said.

In court Tuesday, Blasier’s motion to switch to juvenile court was denied. He thinks that he still has a chance, because it’s possible that prosecutors didn’t know Maggi was autistic when they charged him.

“When they have to make a filing decision, they have to do it quickly. All they see is the police report. They don’t get background on David’s disabilities until later,” Blasier said.

Maggi’s parents don’t deny that he should face consequences for his crime. But they said that he needs help, and that he won’t get it behind bars.

Blasier said that he is planning to give the district attorney a proposal within the next couple of weeks, proposing once again that Maggi be tried as a juvenile.

Maggi’s family said that his group home was supposed to provide a very high level of supervision, but it’s not clear how he managed to walk out. The family said that it might consider legal action against the home once Maggi’s case is finished. Copyright 2002 by TheKCRAChannel
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COMMENTARY #1
By Dennis Debbaudt
Autism, Advocates and Law Enforcement Professionals

Here’s a perfect example above of the dilemma for criminal justice professionals and the next frontier for advocacy efforts. How do we find fair justice for everyone concerned here and still address the unique needs of the person with autism? How do we advocate effectively for the offender with autism who is incarcerated? How do autism advocates begin to work with the victims?

Educating law enforcement, first on the scene professionals and hospital emergency room professionals about recognition and response is the first frontier for autism advocates. Our next frontier is the rest of the criminal justice system-investigators, defense attorneys, prosecutors,judiciary and legislators, correctional professionals, social workers,
forensic professionals.

Tough issues; no easy answers. Proactive involvement should be on The agendas of all responsible autism advocates. We’re going to see Increasingly more of these kinds of cases in the future. If we say we are advocates for people with autism, we can’t pick and choose the issues. We have to identify and respond to all of them. Criminal justice issues are another, even if unpleasant, of the issues who have to deal with. The information on how to do this (effectively advocate/form partnerships within the criminal
justice system) is out here. We can no longer duck and hide.Questions to ask autism advocacy leaders: what do you know about these issues and what are you doing about it? Our advocacy groups are us, for us. Or should be. We can make the changes. If autism advocacy leadership is unwilling to respond, then we have to find new leadership.

– Dennis Debbaudt Autism, Advocates and Law Enforcement
Professionals www.jkp.com www.policeandautism.cjb.net Port St. Lucie, Florida
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COMMENTARY #2
By Lenny Schafer

As the leading edge of the autism baby boom enters adolescence we can
expect to see an increase in such incidents as described here. The more the public hears “his autism made him do it” as an explanation for violent and anti-social behavior, the more right-or-wrong, those with autism will be seen as a danger to society.

The public’s image of autism is found more-or-less in the benign fictional Rainman character from the now 17-year-old movie of the same name. This stereotype will shift more to the darker side of this character with each media recounting of a violent assault: the autistic boy who, you may remember, was institutionalized for the perceived unpredictable danger he posed to his younger brother.

This shift in public attitude will make the tasks for those with autism struggling to integrate themselves into their communities that much more difficult; it’s just another reason, for example, not to hire that talented, but strange behaving Aspie. He might someday go postal on you and then play the I-have-autism get-out-of-jail free card. It will take an ongoing national public awareness campaign to counteract this. Who will do
it? The somnolent national ASA? Care advocate Dennis Debbaudt? Actress Rene Russo? Hello? -LS]

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