Teen’s lawyer wants bully charges dropped

2 of 6 defendants in court yesterday

By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / September 16, 2010

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NORTHAMPTON — A lawyer for one of the six defendants charged in connection with Phoebe Prince’s suicide said yesterday he will seek to have the charges dismissed, saying prosecutors have presented insufficient evidence against his client.

Michael Jennings, who represents Kayla Narey, a former South Hadley High School student charged with harassing Prince in the months before her death, told reporters after a brief courtroom appearance that Narey never harassed or threatened to harm Prince, who hanged herself in January.

He also said 17-year-old Narey, who is charged with criminal harassment and civil rights violations resulting in bodily injury, had never spoken directly with Prince and was not present during any threats of violence.

“The evidence doesn’t exist,’’ Jennings said.

Jennings described Narey as a nice, normal teenager who has received hate mail since being charged in the case. Narey, along with five other former classmates, have pleaded not guilty and through their lawyers have insisted they are not responsible for her death.

Prosecutors say Narey and Sean Mulveyhill were among a group of South Hadley High School students who tormented Prince. Both appeared in Hampshire Superior Court yesterday for the first time in months, walking stone-faced past a throng of reporters and cameras outside the courthouse without speaking. Some reporters had traveled from Ireland, where the case has received intense coverage.

An attorney for Mulveyhill declined comment after the session, which lasted only minutes.

Lawyers for the two teenagers are scheduled to return to court in November. Mulveyhill’s trial date is set for March, while Narey’s remains unscheduled. Attorneys have until mid-January to file motions in the case.

According to new court documents, prosecutors granted Narey and Mulveyhill’s attorneys access to confidential material, including 252 pages of grand jury minutes from March, medical records, and any physical evidence seized by authorities investigating Prince’s death.

As a condition, defense lawyers agreed not to disseminate the information. Prosecutors have voiced frustration over defense attorneys including sensitive material about Prince’s history of mental and emotional troubles in public filings.

Prince’s death and the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of students has drawn international attention and prompted legislators to pass sweeping regulations aimed at reducing bullying in schools.

In an unusually aggressive move, District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel pressed criminal charges against six students this spring.

Scheibel, from South Hadley, is retiring after 18 years in office and will likely be replaced by Dave Sullivan. Sullivan, 50, decisively defeated Michael Cahillane in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and has no opposition in November’s general election.

Three other defendants in the case — Sharon Velazquez, Flannery Mullins, and Ashley Longe — are scheduled to appear in juvenile court next week.

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