Boy who snatched toddler from park in Washington state sentenced to over a year of detention

A 15-year-old boy accused of grabbing a toddler from a park in a small eastern Washington town pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree kidnapping and was sentenced to more than a year in juvenile detention.

Portions of the March 8 kidnapping attempt in the town of Sprague were captured on surveillance video cameras and widely publicized.

Lincoln County Judge John Strohmaier sentenced the boy to 56 to 70 weeks in detention, well above the standard range of 15 to 36 weeks, The Spokesman-Review reported ( ).

"We have the right to conclude that what he was up to was dangerous," Strohmaier said during the hearing in Davenport.

The teen had approached a 22-month-old boy and the toddler's 8-year-old sister and 10-year-old brother in the Sprague City Park. After several minutes of conversation, the teen grabbed the toddler and ran down the street as the older siblings gave chase, screaming.

Two other teens heard the commotion and also chased the teen.

The kidnapper put the toddler down and ran away. He was arrested several days later.

The court heard no testimony from the teen about his motivation. The Associated Press is not identifying the boy because he is a juvenile.

Strohmaier said he believed that the kidnapping attempt was planned in advance.

"It was not spur of the moment," the judge said.

Michael Wright, the father of the kidnapping victim, told the judge that he worried what happened to his son will happen to someone else if the teen is allowed back on the street.

"I would like for him to get the maximum punishment possible," Wright said.

The teen's attorney, Christian Phelps, said there were not enough aggravating factors to justify an exceptional sentence.

"I appreciate that this case is sensational to this community and certainly alarming," he said. But "we don't house the defendant so the community can calm down."

Lincoln County Deputy Prosecutor Melvin Hoit said he hopes the teen, whom he called "a very damaged young man," receives counseling and other treatment while in juvenile detention.

"We know some facts about his background, and they're very troubling," Hoit said.


Information from: The Spokesman-Review,