BALTIMORE (WZ)– Questions of accountability persist as to why Dawnta Harris was allowed to come back to West Baltimore to live with his mom even though she felt he was a risk and needed secure detention.
Secretary of Juvenile Services Sam Abed told WJZ he’s not blaming a judge for allowing the 16-year-old to be released on home monitoring over objections of the troubled teen’s mom.
[REPORTER: Is the court to blame for what happened?]
“I’m not going to use that term, but I think what we have to do is have everybody come together and look at the decisions that were made,” Abed said.
The judge ordered Harris’ release just 11 days before police say he murdered Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio. The secretary’s department was unable to find him for almost a week until the tragedy.
“We made all those efforts to try and locate him. When we couldn’t locate him is when we decided to escalate it,” Abed added.
The Department of Juvenile Services claims it always wanted Harris in secure detention, but a department recommendation WJZ reviewed dated four days before the murder, recommended an alternative to detention. A source said that was simply a clerical error.
Marilyn Mosby has been critical of the secretary.
“I am more than appalled, disheartened, and perplexed by the secretary of the Department of Juvenile Services attempt to shift responsibility away from his department by blaming my office and my attorneys for the release of an alleged murderer,” Mosby said in a press conference Wednesday.
“My remarks were misinterpreted. And you know, we have a strong relationship with the state’s attorney. We work closely with her office and will continue to,” Abed responded.
Harris’ mother, Tanika Wilson, sobbed at the press conference Thursday, saying she tried to do everything she could to get her son back on the right track.
She said she called juvenile services and asked them to detain her son, “so nothing like this would happen.”
Wilson said her son was a regular 15-year-old until December when he was first arrested. That’s when things “took a turn.” He got into the wrong environment and wrong crowd, she said.
“I’m sure in her mind, you know, she is justified to feel that everything failed her son,” Abed said.
The secretary said he has sympathy for Harris’ mother, but he feels that everyone needs to turn down the temperature on this heated issue and calmly take a look at what went wrong so it doesn’t happen again.