York Fair rape: 2nd defendant wants case moved to juvenile court
The second of three Manchester Township teens accused of luring a 14-year-old girl from the York Fair a year ago and gang-raping her at gunpoint has asked a judge to move his case from adult court to juvenile court.
Kelvin Mercedes, 17, appeared in York County Court on Tuesday, Sept. 25, for what's called his juvenile decertification hearing before presiding Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness.
He and two other juveniles — Daishon Richardson and Andrew R. Miller Jr., both 17 — are charged as adults with rape and related offenses and remain free on bail.
Earlier this month, Miller had his juvenile decertification hearing, after which Ness ordered him to stand trial in adult court, calling the alleged rape a "well-planned attack."
Richardson's juvenile decertification hearing is set for Thursday, according to court records.
On Tuesday, senior deputy prosecutor Kara Bowser said she called three witnesses to the stand to assert the case should remain in adult court. They were the SAFE nurse who examined the girl, the girl's grandmother and a state prison staff member who testified about youthful programs available in the adult prison system such as the state prison in Pine Grove, Schuylkill County.
Defense attorney Chris Ferro didn't return a message seeking comment. He called just one witness, according to Bowser — Mercedes' juvenile probation officer.
As he did after Miller's hearing, the judge chose not to make an immediate decision, instead giving both sides 10 days to file briefs, Bowser said.
'Degree of sophistication': "This particular crime had some degree of sophistication," Ness wrote in denying Miller's decertification request. "The young lady was lured away from the Fair with the story of finding a dead body and 'did she want to see it' when she was taken into an isolated area where she was forced to perform oral sex and then dragged to a more isolated area where she was serially raped."
The judge also wrote about the "profound" effect the attack continues to have on the girl and her family, and how she went from being happy and having a bubbly disposition to being withdrawn and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
"(She) rarely leaves home (now)," Ness wrote. "She also withdrew from public school and enrolled at cyber-school, as she was harassed by other students following the assault. ... It is obvious that (she) will continue to deal with the effects of the assault for the balance of her life."
Ness also noted that the notoriety of the case "had a huge impact on the community," because the York Fair has "historically been the largest public gathering in York for over 200 years."
The girl, who Ness described as sexually naive, suffered multiple injuries during the rape, according to a York Hospital forensic SAFE nurse who testified at Miller's hearing. SAFE stands for sexual assault forensic examiner, according to hospital spokesman Dan Carrigan.
Mercedes, Richardson and Miller are accused of raping the girl while threatening her with a handgun the night of Sept. 16, 2017.
Girl testified: The girl testified at the three co-defendants' preliminary hearing in February 2018 that she went to the York Fair that evening with two friends but left by herself through "the back gate."
It was there that she ran into Richardson and Miller, whom she knew, and a third teen with them she didn't know, whom she has identified as Mercedes.
They asked her if she wanted to see a dead body, and all four walked away together, stopping on the property of a business near West York's baseball field, she said. The girl estimated that was about 10 p.m.
That's where Mercedes lifted his shirt to show he had a gun, and Richardson told her to perform oral sex on him and pushed her head down, she testified.
"They all started taking their pants down," she said. "I just did what they told me to do ... because Kelvin had a gun."
Dragged away: The trio then forcibly dragged her behind an abandoned house and took turns raping her, with Mercedes at times holding down her arms and at times holding a gun, according to the girl.
Afterward, one of the attackers called for someone to pick them up, and she was forced to get in a maroon SUV under threat of physical harm, according to her testimony.
After a short drive, she was pushed out of the SUV and fell to the ground as it drove off, she said.
Defense attorneys for Miller, Richardson and Mercedes have said their clients maintain their innocence.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.