A 9-year-old Sepulveda boy, who was arrested for burglary for the second time in less than a week after he got stuck in the chimney of a Sepulveda home, has been frightened away from "dabbling in crime" by the three-hour ordeal, his attorney said Thursday.
"When he was caught in the chimney, he thought he was going to die. He was very scared," said Los Angeles County Public Defender Albert Meister, after entering a plea of not guilty to two charges of burglary against the boy in Sylmar Juvenile Court.
"He feels that any life of crime, dabbling in crime, is out the window."
Rosa Medellin, a single mother of four working as a seamstress in a North Hollywood clothing factory, said through an interpreter that, after her son's first arrest, "I asked my son why was he doing this?
"I said I was working to give him whatever he needed. I told him that, if he kept doing things like that, he'd end up in jail and I wouldn't do anything to get him out of there."
Bernadette Johnson, mother of a second 9-year-old Sepulveda boy accused of being a partner in a series of Sepulveda burglaries, said her son "has done bad things but he's an outgoing person, a good person. He just did wrong. My son is not a criminal."
Johnson said she is separated from her husband and is trying to "make a good life" for herself and her children. She said she has worked since 1981 as a brewer for a Van Nuys beer maker.
Her son's attorney entered a plea of not guilty to four counts of burglary and one count of attempted burglary.
Feb. 4 Trial Date
Superior Court Commissioner Jack Gold on Thursday set Feb. 4 as the trial date for both boys before Commissioner Michael Price.
Denying requests from both mothers to allow their sons to return home, Gold ordered the two, who were being held in Sylmar Juvenile Hall, to remain in county custody. He scheduled a Jan. 28 hearing to determine whether they may return home to await trial.
The two boys were arrested Saturday on suspicion of stealing $500 on Dec. 20 from a Sepulveda home.
The boys, both fourth-graders at Plummer Elementary School in Sepulveda, were arrested again Tuesday after firefighters drilled through the chimney and freed the trapped boy. He had been stuck more than three hours.
Police said they believe the boys are responsible for seven residential break-ins in their Sepulveda neighborhood between Dec. 19 and Tuesday. The boys allegedly stole cash, clothing and other items and spent the money on arcade games.