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Two 18-year-olds charged in Hutchinson hazing case

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at 12:19 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, at 6:55 a.m.

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— A prosecutor on Tuesday filed aggravated battery and hazing charges against two 18-year-olds in an incident at Hutchinson High School in which freshman football players were allegedly burned with a coat hanger.

Stephen Maxwell, Reno County senior assistant district attorney, said he filed three counts of aggravated battery and one count of hazing against one of the 18-year-olds and one count of aggravated battery and one count of hazing against the other. Aggravated battery is a felony; the hazing charges are misdemeanors. The two 18-year-olds are expected to make a first court appearance on Friday.

Court records identify the 18-year-olds as Kendric S. Hudson and Jaiden M. Casanova. According to copies of the criminal complaints, Hudson is the one who is charged with three counts of aggravated battery, in which the victims were 14 or 15 years old and the alleged crimes occurred on or about Oct. 30 or 31. Casanova faces one count of aggravated battery, in which the alleged victim was 15.

When reached by phone Tuesday afternoon, Hudson and Casanova declined to comment.

The battery charges accuse the defendants of knowingly causing harm “whereby great bodily harm, disfigurement or death could be inflicted.”

The hazing charges define the alleged crimes as “unlawfully and recklessly coercing, demanding or encouraging another person to perform, as a condition of membership in a social or fraternal organization, any act which could reasonably be expected to result in great bodily harm, disfigurement or death.”

In a separate matter Tuesday in the same case, a juvenile court judge ruled that a third defendant, a 16-year-old charged with aggravated battery, will continue to be held in juvenile detention.

The 18-year-olds have been released on bond.

The 16-year-old, a sophomore, and the two 18-year-old football players were arrested in a case in which four freshman players were allegedly forcibly burned on their abdomens with a hot metal wire coat hanger last week. District Attorney Keith Schroeder told The Eagle on Monday that the hanger was heated by friction caused by flexing it.

Before ordering that the juvenile remain in custody for the time being, Judge Patricia Macke Dick said there were “rampant rumors and comment on this entire situation.”

Macke Dick added that she had to look at the question of whether the defendant could pose a danger to others, that she expects to learn more about whether hazing was accepted or condoned, that she feels sorry for young men who might perpetuate such a tradition and that the alleged victims were not asking that they be burned or there wouldn’t be a charge.

The judge concluded, before ordering that the 16-year-old remain in custody: “It’s a pretty heinous situation.”

The 16-year-old’s parent couldn’t be reached for comment.

Prosecutor Cheryl Allen, in arguing that the teen should not be released, said he is currently on probation for two aggravated battery convictions and has a pending case against him.

“This young man, with his history, this young man needs to stay where he’s at pending adjudication,” Allen said.

Defense attorney Greg Bell said the 16-year-old is said to be a good student who does well on probation and that he’s a wrestler who hopes that any school suspension ends before wrestling season.

Bell said the teen was supposed to be earning money doing roofing and concrete work and that he doesn’t have a lot of money to bond out of custody.

Bell asked that the teen be released from detention and continue to be supervised on probation and have no contact with the alleged victims or other possible defendants.

Allen, the prosecutor, disagreed with Bell, saying she didn’t think the teen’s probation had gone well or he wouldn’t be facing a new charge.

The juvenile is currently on a 10-day school suspension that could likely be lengthened, she said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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