COLLIER COUNTY — The judge in the case of a 15-year-old student accused of fatally stabbing a classmate issued a stern warning to family and friends of the victim on Tuesday, rebuking their attempt to influence the court through a letter writing campaign.
She also scolded teenagers who attended the hearing, held at a time when many otherwise would have been in class.
“They should not be here in court,” Brodie said. “And their parents maybe should be contacted for truancy issues, because I’m very concerned about so many children not being where they’re supposed to be to receive their education.”
The status hearing in the case of Jorge Saavedra lasted mere minutes. The defense briefed the judged on the status of depositions and several outstanding motions, and Brodie set another status hearing.
Saavedra, free on home release, was then ushered out of the courtroom in a swarm of family and supporters.
The teenager is charged as a juvenile in the Jan. 24 fatal stabbing of Dylan Nuno, 16, during a fight by a bus stop in Golden Gate Estates. Both boys were students at Palmetto Ridge High School. Saavedra faces a count of armed manslaughter.
Brodie’s censure of Nuno’s supporters came as family and friends sought to assert themselves in the still-young case. Angered over Nuno’s portrayal as a bully by Saavedra’s family and attorney, supporters recently mailed letters to the judge defending their friend and asking that the accused killer be dealt with firmly.
Tuesday, dozens of supporters arrived at Tuesday’s hearing clad in T-shirts memorializing their slain friend.
Reading from a written statement, Brodie told the courtroom the letters amounted to a prohibited ex parte communication, or a private communication between one party and the judge. She reminded attorneys of judicial conduct rules and issued an order on the matter.
“The constitution guarantees the family of the victims be heard, but there is a time and place for victim impact statements to be made to the court,” Brodie said in her statement. “Sending letters to the court is improper.”
The judge asked state prosecutors to keep closer tabs on the victim’s family. She also requested they look into whether students skipped school to attend the hearing.
Outside the courtroom, students brushed off the scolding. Jessica Wilcox, 15, of St. John Neumann High School, said her parents gave her permission to leave school and attend the hearing. She came with a friend and the friend’s parent.
Wilcox defended the letters to Brodie, one of which she penned. Nuno was not a bully, she emphasized.
“I understand the court thinks we’re saying this just because we’re his friends and we want justice, but it’s the truth,” she said.
Nuno’s aunt, Adriana Nuno, helped organize the campaign. She declined to comment on the letters after the hearing but said her nephew’s friends would continue to follow the case.
“We’re here to represent Dylan in every single court hearing,” she said.
Dylan Nuno’s parents attended the hearing, as did Saavedra’s. The teenager, dressed in a black shirt and light colored tie, remained silent during the brief hearing. His father, Jose Saavedra, sat to the boy’s right.
During the hearing, defense attorney Donald Day told Brodie he’d likely be finished with witness depositions by late August.
Details surrounding the stabbing have been limited, due in large part to the confidential nature of juvenile cases. Detective reports state that Saavedra pulled a knife during a fight between the boys. Whether the fight was planned or an attack by one teenager on the other is unclear.
The next status hearing in the case is set for Aug. 30 at 1:30 p.m.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: DYLAN NUNO / JORGE SAAVEDRA
- March 14, 2011: Golden Gate Estates teen Jorge Saavedra arraigned in unrelated case
- March 1, 2011: Suspect in bus stop stabbing death out of detention while awaiting trial
- March 1, 2011: Next court hearing this afternoon in Collier school bus stop stabbing case
- Feb. 23, 2011: Teen will be tried as juvenile in stabbing death of Palmetto Ridge classmate
- Feb. 23, 2011: Case postponed against teen accused of stabbing fellow Palmetto Ridge High student
- Feb. 14: Arraignment for teens accused in separate homicides postponed
- Jan. 31, 2011: Donald Day to represent student charged with school bus stop stabbing
- Jan. 29, 2011: Hundreds remember slain Palmetto Ridge teen Dylan Nuno
- Jan. 27, 2011: Taunts, insults posted on Facebook pages created for stabbing victim
- Jan. 27, 2011: Substitute drove bus that dropped off students involved in fatal stabbing
- Jan. 26, 2011: Memorial service for slain Palmetto Ridge student draws hundreds of teens
- Jan. 25, 2011: Witnesses describe stabbing death of Palmetto Ridge student and history that led to it
- Jan. 25, 2011: Witnesses: Bullying may have sparked deadly bus stop stabbing
- Jan. 25, 2011: 14-year-old held on manslaughter charge in stabbing death of Palmetto Ridge High classmate
- Jan. 24, 2011 (second story): Palmetto Ridge High student stabbed to death after getting off school bus
- Jan. 24, 2011 (first story): Palmetto Ridge student stabbed after getting off school bus
- Menor de 14 arrestado por cargo de homicidio al apuñalar a compañero de clase de Palmetto Ridge High
- March 1, 2011: Saavedra put on house arrest with mother in Miami
- Jan. 29, 2011: Candlelight vigil for Dylan Nuno at Max Hasse park
- Jan. 26, 2011: Dylan Nuno Memorial Service
- Jan. 25, 2011: Jorge Saavedra makes first court appearance
- Jan. 24, 2011: On the ground; stabbing investigation continues
- Jan. 24, 2011: School bus stabbing in Estates
- Photos of Dylan Nuno
- Jan. 25, 2011: Students react to stabbing death
- Jan. 24, 2011: RAW VIDEO - Students exit bus after stabbing
- My Thoughts Exactly by Annette Kniola: Red Flags in Stabbing Death
- My Thoughts Exactly by Annette Kniola: Estates Once Again -"In Shock"
- Jan. 25, 2011: Editorial: Tragic destruction of young lives ...
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