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Teen charged in Portage murder seeking trip downstate for evaluation
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Teen charged in Portage murder seeking trip downstate for evaluation

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VALPARAISO — Just a few weeks after failing in his first attempt to block his murder case from being waived to adult court, a 15-year-old Gary boy is seeking to be temporarily transported to a state facility to undergo a mental health evaluation.

The evaluation is needed, in part, to help determine whether a boy with no prior criminal history should be waived to adult court and be "exposed to the obvious dangers of the adult penal environment," according to the motion filed on behalf of the boy by Porter County Juvenile Public Defender Harold Harper.

"Waiver is the most extreme action a juvenile court can take," Harper said.

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The nature of the alleged offense also "raises legitimate questions about his mental health, cognitive abilities and sociability," the motion reads.

The requested evaluation at the Indiana Department of Correction Juvenile Intake and Diagnostics unit in Logansport is further needed to determine the juvenile system's ability to provide rehabilitative services to the boy, Harper said.

Harper said the evaluation is necessary for him to provide an effective defense in the case.

Police say the boy, along with Shaun Thompson, 16, and Jonathan Brown, 17, both of Gary, shot 27-year-old Adriana Saucedo of Portage and stole $80 from her early in the evening on Nov. 19 after picking her up at an apartment on Kathryn Court in Portage. They lured her out with the false claim of selling her marijuana, police said.

Teen fails in first bid to keep Portage murder case out of adult court

After stopping to have her pay for gasoline, they drove to the parking lot of the nearby Frontier building at 2059 Crisman Road in Portage where Thompson allegedly shot Saucedo, police said.

The boy, who The Times is not identifying unless his case is waived to adult court, was surprised that one of his co-defendants shot and killed Saucedo during what was supposed to be a robbery, according to the defense.

The trio traveled to Horace S. Norton Elementary School, 1356 Harrison Blvd. in Gary, where they allegedly dumped the body in the abandoned building, police said.

Thompson and Brown were charged in adult court and a waiver to adult court is pending for the boy.

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Porter County Juvenile Court Magistrate Gwenn Rinkenberger rejected an argument last month by the defense that the boy is not charged properly to qualify for a waiver and thus the prosecution's waiver petition should be dismissed.

A waiver hearing is scheduled for March 18.

Gallery: Recent arrests booked into Porter County Jail

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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