Adult court for teen in attack on Chester County woman, 72

A 17-year-old male accused of attacking and robbing a 72-year-old Chester County woman in February and locking her in a closet of her home will be tried as an adult, a judge decided Friday.

The teen, who faces attempted murder charges, will stay in the county Youth Center until his bail hearing next week, according to Assistant District Attorney Christine Abatemarco, who is prosecuting the case. If he does not post bail, he will be transferred to the county prison.

County Judge John Hall made the decision after an all-day hearing at the county Justice Center in West Chester. He is expected to file a written opinion with his findings at a later date.

According to police, the teen broke into the woman’s East Brandywine Township house, in a wooded area in the 1000 block of Creek Road, on Feb. 22. She lived alone. The woman’s daughter-in-law found her in a closet four days later bound with duct tape and zip ties, and with a cloth bag over her head. The woman stayed in intensive care at Paoli Hospital for several days.

The teen had run away from the Brandywine campus of Devereux, a residential treatment program for students with behavioral, emotional, and psychiatric disorders. Police arrested him on March 1.

The incident prompted State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) to introduce a bill June 19 that would make sure municipalities alert their residents when a juvenile runs away from a residential treatment facility. Under the proposed legislation, such facilities would also need to work with law enforcement and municipal officials when developing written safety plans in order to receive a license from the state.

Police said the teen accused of attacking the woman did not know her but after leaving Devereux, he walked to her home, which was nearby. He returned to Devereux two days later wearing bleached sneakers.

According to police, he had driven from the woman’s home in her car and with her credit cards, cellphone, and laptop. Police said the inside of the teen’s elbow was bruised. They allege he used it to choke the victim.

He had been arrested for two burglaries in October in Delaware County.

Michael Raffaele, the teen’s attorney, had argued that prosecutors had not presented enough evidence to charge his client with attempted murder, but prosecutors said the defendant’s alleged actions showed his intent and warranted adult court.