Saturday, May 26, 2001

Four girls ordered detained

Hearing held in tampering case; Oyler teacher said fearful

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A Hamilton County Juvenile Court magistrate on Friday ordered four preteen girls accused of pouring drain cleaner into their teacher's water detained pending trial.

        Magistrate Mary Schulcz said the nature of the charges, and Oyler Elementary teacher Nancy Wynette's contention that she fears for her safety, factored into her decision.

        The girls - ages 11, 12, 12 and 13 - burst into tears when the magistrate announced her decision in court. Family members accompanying each girl also cried and one argued that her daughter was merely the look-out during the incident.

        On May 10, the girls allegedly poured the cleaner, described in court Friday as concentrated sulfuric acid, into Ms. Wynette's water bottle. When she went to drink from the bottle, authorities say she found that it was warm and put it in a refrigerator.

        The next day, the girls retrieved the bottle and emptied it. Christopher Kraus, the defense attorney for one of the 12-year-old girls, said his client poured out the contents of the bottle in an attempt to help Ms. Wynette.

        “When she learned her teacher's life was at risk - she wanted to protect her and poured it out,” Mr. Kraus told Magistrate Schulcz.

        The four have been expelled from the Lower Price Hill school.

        They have been held in juvenile detention since their May 17 arrests.

        They are not being named because they are juveniles.

        Attorneys for two of the girls have asked for examinations to determine whether their clients are competent to stand trial.

        All four girls have been charged with contaminating a substance for human use, tampering with evidence and obstructing official business.

        They are scheduled for trial in Juvenile Court June 4.


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