Teens' mental states considered in beating case

Five teenagers charged with beating Terence Reese and breaking his jaw in March will have to keep waiting to find out whether they'll be tried in Superior Court -- which would have them facing prison sentences seven times longer than they could be given as minors.

A juvenile court hearing Friday ended with Judge Willie Saunders pledging to release a written decision on whether to try the teens -- Ross Nipple, 15; Berten Blockett, 16; Joshua Plowright, 14; Mark Daniel Richard Musick, 14; and Brandon Mansson, 14 -- as adults, but not stating a specific timetable for the decision.

If convicted of aggravated battery and criminal gang activity in juvenile court, they could be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for a maximum of five years, with the department deciding at what point they could be released or placed on probation.

But in Superior Court the aggravated battery charge carries a sentence of one to 20 years, and the gang charge a sentence of five to 15 years.

On the final day of the hearing -- which was postponed last week -- attorneys listened as two psychologists testified to the teens' dispositions and mental fitness. Dr. Adrienne Davis, a forensic psychologist with East Central Regional Hospital, said Plowright suffers from ADHD, depression and had attended special education classes since the third grade.

Musick has an IQ of 127 -- in the superior range -- and Davis recommended he be in a mentorship program and be enrolled in classes that support his academic strengths. She also advised therapy and substance-abuse counseling for the teen.

Dr. Joseph Frey, a private-practice psychologist who examined some of the teens, said Blockett seemed "egocentric," prone to aggressive behavior and has little understanding of the impact of his actions on others.

Mansson suffers from a form of conduct disorder, in which he displays disregard for "people, persons and animals."

But in other tests he expressed a "sense of regret" for the beating, Frey said. Nipple was polite but superficial.

"His stories contained themes of lost family conflict as well as stories of violence and aggression," Frey said.

Cyrus King, an intake worker for the Department of Juvenile Justice, testified that he felt the teens could be treated within the juvenile justice system based solely on their lack of previous criminal history.

Authorities allege that four of the suspects -- Blockett, Plowright, Mansson and Musick -- are members of the Apple Valley Posse gang, based off Mike Padgett Highway, while Nipple claimed to be in the Bloods gang.

The teens are accused of ruthlessly beating Reese as he was walking home from school on Circular Drive in an activity called "locking down the block."

Reach Adam Folk and Johnny Edwards

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Notes on mental evaluations

In a hearing Friday to determine whether the five teens charged in the beating of Terence Reese should be tried as adults, forensic psychologists Adrienne Davis and Joseph Frey testified that none of them were mentally retarded or mentally ill, which would have been a legal barrier to transferring the case to Superior Court.

Among the doctors' other comments regarding the five:

BERTEN BLOCKETT

- Little apathy for others, egocentric, arrogant and prone to aggressive behavior

- Reported that he smoked marijuana six to seven times per day

BRANDON MANSSON

- Meets criteria for a serious conduct disorder, wherein a person displays disregard for people, property or animals in a repetitive manner and usually moves on to adult criminal behavior

- Gave the following answers on a fill-in-the-blank psychological test: I like ... to ride my bike; I regret ... watching that boy get beat up; I feel ... sad for the boy 'cause his jaw is broken; I can't ... stop thinking about that Monday afternoon.

MARK DANIEL RICHARD MUSICK

- Has an IQ of 127, which is considered in the "superior" range

- Wanted to join the Marines and become an engineer. Said he wasn't in a gang

ROSS NIPPLE

- Polite, superficial, self-centered, shows feelings of superiority and lacks respect for family members.

- Gave the following answers on a fill-in-the blank psychological test: Sometimes ... people junk talk gets to me; Dating ... is something I always do; Most girls ... like my swag.

JOSHUA PLOWRIGHT

- Has been in special education classes since third grade

- Has a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression

- No signs of violent tendencies noted

Source: Adrienne Davis, forensic psychologist at East Central Regional Hospital-Augusta (evaluated Musick and Plowright); Joseph Frey, a psychologist in private practice specializing in forensic and business-oriented psychology (evaluated Blockett, Mansson and Nipple)