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Why did county prosecutors decline bullying case, despite victim's brain injuries?

Why did county prosecutors decline bullying case, despite victim's brain injuries?

CREATED Feb 17, 2012

Reporter: Claire Doan

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) – A bully’s hallway attack leads to a concussion and brain injury, but administrators shield the attacker from police and prosecutors turn down the case.

When 9 On Your Side first broke the story Thursday, it resulted in a huge outcry on KGUN9.com and our Facebook page.

How does this term grab you? “De-minimus case.” The term basically means small or trivial legal matter, going nowhere. If you’re not a Latin or legal scholar, you may not know what that means.

But it’s the only explanation prosecutors initially gave Wendy and Timothy Maybin for deciding not to prosecute their daughter’s bully. Their daughter suffered a concussion, a brain injury and PTSD from the attack.  

So 9OYS asked Chief Criminal Deputy Kellie Johnson why prosecutors chose not to move forward with the case.

“There was no information provided to us with the terminology ‘brain injury’ in any document, so this is a case where more information has come to light later,” Johnson explained.

Johnson emphasized that the case is currently under review, given new medical information that the Maybins have proactively given to the office – and that prosecutors are still able to move forward with the case, if they so choose.

She admits that for their initial rejection of the case, prosecutors were aware that the girl suffered a concussion. But she added that there are additional considerations for prosecuting a juvenile case, as opposed to an adult one.

“So in some criminal cases in the criminal system, when we look at them, they are deal with in other ways short of filing a complaint to help try to prevent the juvenile and obtaining a record early on,” Johnson said.

Reporter Claire Doan asked what some of those considerations regarding prosecution might be, but Johnson said the question in too broad and each case has its own unique circumstances. Furthermore, there is not definitive threshold that would guarantee prosecution. But what about this one?

“In this case, for the girl who received a concussion – according to what your office knew – didn’t her attacker at least merit some sort of prosecution?” Doan asked.

“What I have to focus on and what I keep bringing this case back to is what information we had at the time of the initial presentation of the case,” Johnson said. "It is our understanding the victim was taken to the emergency room a couple of days after the assualt and had potentially a concussion, but no firm diagnosis of that type of injury at the time it was presented to us."

She also told 9OYS that even before the Maybin case came to light, they are in the process of revising their letters to provide a more user-friendly explanation regarding their thought process.

Johnson insists prosecutors made the right decision at the time based on the information they had in hand.