Teens charged in killing of College of Charleston official’s husband wait for waiver hearing | News | #College. | #Students

Some 18 months since the husband of a College of Charleston official was gunned down during an armed robbery in downtown Charleston, a family court judge still has not decided whether the three teenage boys accused in the case should be tried as adults.

Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said her office is waiting for the family court to schedule a waiver hearing, during which a judge will determine whether the three teenagers should be tried as adults. 

Wilson requested in August 2020 that the case be transferred to general sessions court, where the teens could face charges of murder, armed robbery and attempted armed robbery, among other felonies, in the killing of 63-year-old Tom DiLorenzo during a crime spree the morning of July 17, 2020. 

Like many criminal cases, the delinquency case has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, Wilson said. Until October, the court only held emergency hearings virtually, for new juvenile detainees.

A judge must consider several factors when determining whether a juvenile should be tried as an adult, she said, including the juvenile’s maturity, delinquency history and the likely success of rehabilitation. 

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Wilson said several evaluations had to be conducted on the juveniles to help evaluate those factors, which took longer than usual. She said her office is still waiting for an evaluation for one of the juveniles. 

The teens remain in custody, Wilson said, but the case is stuck in legal limbo. The juveniles cannot get their day in court until the judge decides in which court, exactly, that should be. 

Charleston police Chief Luther Reynolds said in a statement the community continues to mourn DiLorenzo’s death, and the department appreciates Wilson’s commitment to seeking justice in the case. 

“CPD officers and detectives acted swiftly in this case, making multiple arrests within hours of the violent crime spree taking place,” he said. “While we’re grateful that those responsible for this senseless crime have remained in custody, we hope the courts will be able to expedite this waiver process so that Mr. DiLorenzo’s loved ones can receive the closure they deserve.”

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The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed criminal proceedings across the country as judges try to steer cases toward trial while ensuring proper safety precautions are being taken to limit spread of the virus. 

The criminal penalties for adults are significantly more severe than those for juveniles. 

Under state law, the most serious penalty a juvenile can face is an “indeterminant” sentence, meaning the juvenile can remain in state custody up until the age of 21, according to the S.C. Bar Association. 

By comparison, murder is punishable by 30 years to life in prison for adults. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2005 that juveniles cannot be sentenced to death.

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On the morning of July 17, 2020, the three teens allegedly drove a stolen car from North Charleston to downtown Charleston, according to authorities.

Two of the juveniles, ages 15 and 16 at the time, proceeded to rob a 74-year-old woman on Archdale Street, authorities said, and then rob a 20-year-old construction worker at the corner of Calhoun and St. Philip streets.

The same two teens then approached DiLorenzo, 63, and his wife, Suzanne Austin, who had recently been appointed the College of Charleston’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. They were also held at gunpoint while the juveniles demanded money.

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During the robbery, DiLorenzo was fatally shot. The teens fled to the waiting car and left the area, police said.

The 15-year-old and 16-year-old were arrested the day of the shooting. A third teen, also 15, was arrested almost a week later. 

Austin did not respond to a request for comment through the college’s media-relations department. 

Reach Steve Garrison at 843-607-1052. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT.

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