Acquitted School Bombing Suspect on WINA

Howard Barnet and his 13-year-old son were guests on Coy Barefoot’s “Charlottesville Live” on Thursday, one day after the boy was acquitted on charges of conspiring to attack two county high schools. Sean Tubbs podcasts the interview on Charlottesville Podcasting Network. It’s a must-listen for anybody following the case. The guests reveal that the kid had no attorney at his intake hearing, that it was four days until his parents were allowed to see him, and that the computer evidence used to convict him in his first trial was so lame that it was never even entered as evidence in the second trial. The senior Barnet, when asked about Commonwealth Attorney Jim Camblos, said that, under him, Albemarle “looked more like a fiefdom than a county.”

The worst thing to come out of all of this may be the lesson to parents and kids: never talk to police officers, and always demand a lawyer. We may end up with a generation of kids taught to fear police.

13 Responses to “Acquitted School Bombing Suspect on WINA”


  • The worst thing to come out of all of this may be the lesson to parents and kids: never talk to police officers, and always demand a lawyer. We may end up with a generation of kids taught to fear police.

    I’m sure that’s a lesson already taught to kids in some communities.

  • I think that the middle/professional class part of the community which the two Jouett students and the AHS student belong to was naive about teaching our children to have an awareness of their rights as citizens. We thought we could rely on the police to use good judgement in any dealings with our children, and now we know that it is unsafe to place that much trust in the Albemarle County police.
    What we need to give our kids now is information NOT fear.
    Here is a quote from http://www.flexyourrights.org :”Other than identifying yourself, you are under no obligation to disclose information to the police at any time.” Can any of the more knowledgeable about the law folks out there tell me if that is an accurate thing to teach my teenage son? Can parents legaly decline to make their child available for questioning by the police unless the child is arrested?

  • A whole generation taught to fear police? Thats been true in minority and less-privileged communities forever. Now privileged, white middle-class families are discovering their rights too can be trampled on.
    If any good can come of this, it will be that people will be more vigilant about protecting their rights, and not assuming that “the system” is going to work.
    That boy and his family have been put through hell. Where Camblos needs to be put is out to pasture.

  • Here is a quote from http://www.flexyourrights.org :”Other than identifying yourself, you are under no obligation to disclose information to the police at any time.” Can any of the more knowledgeable about the law folks out there tell me if that is an accurate thing to teach my teenage son? Can parents legaly decline to make their child available for questioning by the police unless the child is arrested?

    The ACLU provides what they call their “bust card” — a wallet-sized guide to what your rights are when confronted by the police. That should provide everything that you — and your teenaged son — need to know in case of such an incident.

  • Thanks Waldo. The ACLU card is very useful but not clear about how to deal with a situation like the young man in the news this week faced.

  • ACPD is bad news you all, I’ve lived here in the county for a long time and know that politics runs that aspect of our county and until certain mainstays decide to leave – yes, decide (they know something) – and they are replaced with outsiders that are fresh to the system and willing to clean up this mess nothing is going to change, its been this way for years. Camblos couldn’t prosecute his way out of a paper bag – note the Alson kid that is walking free as I write, he murdered a kid in cold blood. He stabbed his victim what, 40 times, right here on the corner and all they could convince a jury to hand down was three years but hey, say the word “smoke bomb” and they act like they saved the whole damn school system. I’ll stop here before they start gunning for me, who knows with them?

  • I wholeheartedly agree that Camblos needs to be replaced, for a variety of reasons, but he can’t be pegged with the Andrew Alston verdict – Alston was prosecuted in Charlottesville Circuit Court, not in Albemarle.

  • Getting rid of Camblos is important but we really need a law which gives parents the right to have an attorney present when minors are questioned, even as “witnesses” or when the minor is not under arrest. This is how the “conspiracy” was cooked up by the police (and then mishandled by Camblos) and it needs to be illegal.

    There are some other troubling implications here. What about the next time a family has a situation with a disturbed teen which they feel unable to handle? Obviously, you risk having your kid end up in juvenile prison and you may be involving innocent acquaintances. And who will encourage their child to reach out to befriend a troubled family friend? Won’t people hesitate to involve the police when it might be necessary to do so? Etc.

  • Getting rid of Camblos is important but we really need a law which gives parents the right to have an attorney present when minors are questioned, even as “witnesses” or when the minor is not under arrest.

    I suspect that the House or Senate Courts of Justice committee would be the place to start with that. None of Albemarle’s representatives are on the Senate Courts of Justice committee, but both Del. Rob Bell and Del. David Toscano sit on the House Courts of Justice Committee. That puts both of them in a good position to introduce such a bill.

    Del. Bell is loathe to do anything that could be seen as “soft on crime” — preventing children from being questioned if their parents demand an attorney may qualify as such. On the other hand, he’s eager to do whatever a good chunk of the public demands, so this may suffice. On the other hand, this bill is right up Del. Toscano’s alley…but he’s both a freshman and in the minority party.

    So I figure Rob Bell is the guy to start with. If he won’t make a firm commitment to carrying such a bill, I’d move on to David Toscano.

  • cville_libertarian

    I think Bell would actively oppose such a bill – he is, at least from the perspective of his legislative history – very much in favor of expanded police powers. Waldo, if you recall the Turner rant, look at the types of bills Bell introduces and you’ll see that he’s in the business of prosecutorial armaments. I think he cares more about that than pandering, so I would be very circumspect of a poison pill in any legislation he introduces.

    Toscano would do very well with this, at least, it would play well in the City. I don’t know the mood of the ACPS parents though, are more parents upset with the school system and police for going after these kids, or frustrated at the prospect that the railroading might not come off smoothly? It would be very easy – particularly in the county, at least moreso than in the city – to see a majority of parents who simply want these kids out, guilty or not.

    No matter who you are – free, white and twenty-one or the epitome of a ‘profile’ – you need to recognize that the police and prosecutors are not there to deliver ‘justice’ or adjudicate and resolve the ‘truth’. They are there to convict – you or someone – that is what they are paid to do. They are not your buddies and they are not looking out for your interests. The judge and jury are there to adjudicate and find the ‘truth’. Your lawyer is your friend. Under our increasingly militarized police system – the product of the 30 years of the ‘war on drugs’ – it is more important than ever to teach your children this. Since the trend towards having the schools stand in as surrogate parents isn’t abating, the proliferation of all sorts of “zero tolerance” policies and the rest have really made this even more problematic.

  • Agreed. So long as we (as in those who vote) continue to support every single piece of feel-good reactionary legislation, which tend to do nothing except provide more and more opportunities for ordinary citizens to have encounters with the government (cops) we will live in a society that will begin to look like a police state. Rob Bell is expert at proposing — and getting passed — this kind of vacuous, meaningless legislation. I just wish people would think long and hard about who they’re electing and why. Anybody see V for Vendetta?

  • Yessireeebob! I’m looking forward to voting on our vastly important referendum to ban gay marriage: because that’s the really vital issue!

  • Today on Coy Barefoot’s WINA interview with David Heilborg, the attorney for the recently acquittted 13 year old, Coy said that both Bell and Toscano had expressed interest in pursuing legislation which would allow parents to have attorneys with minors when being questioned by the police. Although I am all for holding elected officials and the police responsible for serious incompetence (lawsuits and investigation of police conduct and a new CA), I think the best long-term protection for children and families is a change in the laws which allowed the police to question these children without anyone to protect their interests.
    The interview was very interesting with some new, to me, information about the police “computer expert”.

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