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Teen suspects in beating case plead not guilty in Superior Court

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Teens Berten Blockett and Branndon Manson watched as men and women in orange jumpsuits -- some appearing to be more than twice their age -- appeared before Senior Judge William Fleming in Richmond County Superior Court on Friday.



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When it was their turn, the teens shuffled to the judge's bench, their hands and feet bound by chains.

They looked confused as they stood before the crowded courtroom to enter their pleas of not guilty on charges of aggravated battery and criminal gang activity.

Blockett shrugged when Fleming asked him the name of his attorney and struggled to maintain eye contact with the judge.

It was the first appearance by the two teens in Superior Court since Judge Willie Saunders transferred their cases out of juvenile court June 4.

Blockett and Manson-- who were 16 and 14 at the time of their arrests -- were singled out from the other three teenage defendants charged with the March beating of 16-year-old Terrence Reese because of what the judge called the "very egregious nature of this offense and the community's interest in combating a rash of teen and gang-related violence," according to his written decision. He also cited Blockett and Manson's willingness to openly admit to their "involvement in the crime."

Blockett and Manson face a sentence of one to 20 years for the aggravated battery charge and five to 15 years for the charge of criminal gang activity if convicted.

The other three defendants -- Mark Daniel Musick, 14; Ross Nipple, 15; and Jacob Plowright, 14 -- are awaiting trial in juvenile court scheduled for July. If convicted on the same charges, the greatest sentence they face is a maximum of five years in the juvenile justice system with the department deciding when they could be released or put on probation.

With the assistance of a public defense attorney, Blockett and Manson signed their pleas before they were taken out to return to the Richmond County Youth Detention Center.

At one point, an attorney asked Blockett whether he knew how to sign his name, eliciting anger from his grandmother and Manson's mother, who were in the courtroom and felt it was demeaning.

After the hearing, Tahlea Manson said she was frustrated by the whole affair and believes pressure on her son by investigators made him admit to something he did not do. The victim has said he doesn't know Manson and doesn't believe he was present during the beating. Manson's mother said she worries for his future and his chances of making it into college if he is convicted.

"These are two felony charges they are trying to stick on these kids," she said after the arraignment. "It's going to ruin my son's life."

Also present at the hearing were Reese and his mother, Taanja. She said she and her son were eager for a conclusion to the whole ordeal.

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angeleyes
0
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angeleyes 06/19/10 - 05:45 am
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not guilty... give me a

not guilty... give me a freakin break. we all know that these bad little bratty kids did this. i bet they think its funny now huh? i hope the judge makes an example out of all of them. i hope the parents have to pay all his medical bills. that way when they beat the crap out of there bad kids it just might stir them in the right direction.

beboisme
425
Points
beboisme 06/19/10 - 06:01 am
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0
Tru Dat angeleyes! Soooo glad

Tru Dat angeleyes! Soooo glad none of the boys didn't have a gun or knife. Altho the beating was bad it could have been far worse.

bettyboop
7
Points
bettyboop 06/19/10 - 07:07 am
0
0
""Manson's mother said she

""Manson's mother said she worries for his future and his chances of making it into college if he is convicted.""....who is this lady kidding?

beboisme
425
Points
beboisme 06/19/10 - 07:32 am
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bettyboop, truer words have

bettyboop, truer words have never been spoken. If the boy had a mind to go to college then he would have been smart enough not to have been involved with a gang from Apple Valley. For some reason the name of the gang just does not sound threatening. Sort of like calling themselves the Happy Trails gang.

fatboyhog
2104
Points
fatboyhog 06/19/10 - 11:33 am
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Hahahaha...mama worries about

Hahahaha...mama worries about his chances of getting into college. She needs to worry about him getting out of high school and staying out of trouble. She needn't worry about him getting into college though, the federal government has billions to give away for college, no strings attached.

mable8
2
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mable8 06/19/10 - 07:40 pm
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It's rather clear from the

It's rather clear from the investigation that these young fellas did the dirty deed. Had the parents provided more supervision, perhaps they would not be where they are today. Sorry moms, but your boys nearly beat another young lad to death--what about him and his family? Have you contacted them to apologize? Don't worry about college; they are under 26 years and will qualify for the higher education program while they are incarcerated. You might want to look into that. The more mature inmate is the one who hasn't a prayer to better his education in prison, so you might want to count your blessings.

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