Teen’s Attempted Murder Trial Will Move To Juvenile Court

By Guy Leonard, County Times

LEONARDTOWN, Md. (September 20, 2007)—Corey Ryder, the 17-year-old male accused of hiring an undercover police officer to kill his parents back in June will be tried in juvenile court, meaning that even if found guilty he can only be held by the state until he is 21 years of age.

Circuit Court Judge Karen Abrams made the decision regarding Ryder’s immediate fate following a Sept. 17 hearing in which she heard testimony that seemed to describe two sides of Ryder.

Ryder’s defense attorney, public defender John Getz, called several state witnesses who had evaluated or worked with Ryder before and after his alleged offense saying he could benefit from state treatment.

They said that Ryder had learned his alleged actions were wrong and that he wanted to turn his life around.

There was also testimony recounted from reports about the defendant that he was allegedly abused by his parents, which led to his anger against them.

Prosecutor Joseph Stanalonis, along with testimony from the defendant’s mother Shannon Troiano, talked about a different person. One who had been through the juvenile system several times with little improvement for numerous issues, had previously threatened to kill his mother and was a danger to the community.

Abrams said she felt Ryder should receive treatment instead of being tried and possibly sent to an adult prison where his apparent condition might worsen.

“There’s obviously something wrong with him mentally that Corey does this,” Abrams said from the bench. “I know he plays the system… I know he say’s what’s expected. But given what I know about prison and what is offered by juvenile services, I have to opt to get Corey treatment.”

Abrams told Ryder directly that he should take advantage of the treatment opportunities from the state and should learn to deal with the issues that drove him to allegedly commit the crime for which he was charged.

“Being angry and blaming other people for what you won’t do yourself is unacceptable,” Abrams told Ryder.

Ryder was arrested by police June 2 in a police sting operation where the defendant allegedly met with and solicited an undercover police officer to kill his parents.

Investigators said that Ryder had moved out of his parents’ house and had issues with parental authority.

Police recorded the meeting between Ryder and the undercover officer, and according to charging documents, when the officer asked how the killing should be done, Ryder allegedly said: “Two bullets is all it takes.”

According to earlier testimony Sept. 17 from Tara Klysz, Ryder’s probation officer, the defendant was on probation for a previous incident from May of 2006 to March of 2007 — before the attempted murder charges — and had several hearings before Juvenile Judge Michael J. Stamm about improving his grades in school.

Klysz testified that she recommended continuing probation for Ryder, who did not make substantial improvements in school, but the court decided to close the case.

Klysz testified she believed Ryder would benefit from treatment from the Department of Juvenile Services.

Abrams said later she “had no clue” why the probation was not continued and that led her to believe Ryder had not received the full benefit of treatment options.

Both an in-home counselor, Tom Barringer, and a clinical social worker from the Office of the Public Defender, Georgia Kenney, who had contact with Ryder, said he should stay in the juvenile court with the possibility of treatment.

“We had very good conversations with each other,” Barringer, a counselor with the Institute for Family Center Services, said. “I think that [state treatment] will help him with his maturity… and get some reality based thinking.”

Barringer, who counseled Ryder and his family before the alleged attempted murder scheme, did say that Ryder had “anger issues,” but that he had worked with Ryder on those problems.

Kenney said she believed Ryder had come to regret what he was alleged to have done. “I think Corey’s remorseful,” Kenney testified in court. “He’s learned a lot from this and he’s learned to think before he speaks.

“He realizes he’s a child and that he needs help from somebody.”

Ryder’s mother testified that her son had been through the juvenile system so many times that he knew how to work it and evade harsher penalties.

She said she was torn between love for her son and the fear that he may have really meant to have her killed. She testified that she still was not completely sure of her son’s alleged murderous intent but feared it nonetheless.

Troiano came to the witness stand with a thick blue folder she said contained the most recent history of her efforts to help turn her troubled son around.

“This is everything we’ve ever done, his counseling, his IEPs (individualized education programs), his psychological and psychiatric evaluations just for this year,” Troiano said. “I’ve been trying to get help for Corey since the sixth grade.”

She said efforts to put her son on probation to improve his grades, which included an electronic monitoring bracelet to force him to go to class, helped only so long as those measures were in place.

“The minute he was off we were right back to the beginning,” Troiano said. “He was skipping class… he wasn’t doing any of his work.”

Before going on probation for two counts of property destruction last May, according to court testimony, Ryder had gone through a drug treatment program; but his mother said she feared he had returned to some form of substance abuse.

She finally ejected her son from the house, she testified, when she found out that Ryder had stolen money from his sister, she said, and an argument about it ensued that turned violent.

Ryder, who had denied taking the money, Troiano testified, pushed his mother down and began kicking her.

“That was when I told him to get out.”

Testimony also alleged that Ryder had at one time threatened to cut his mother’s throat and had been found with a knife prior to the alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Troiano was visibly shaken by the prospect of her son staying in the juvenile system and being released in less than four years.

“How do I live? How does my family live?” she said.

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