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D.C. AG Says Betts' Killing Forces Fresh Look At DYRS Procedures

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Alante Saunders is one of three 18-year-old males charged with middle school principal Brian Betts' murder.
Montgomery County Police Department
Alante Saunders is one of three 18-year-old males charged with middle school principal Brian Betts' murder.

By Jonathan Wilson

D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles says the alleged murder of middle school principal Brian Betts has led him to take yet another look at how the city handles juvenile criminals.

D.C. middle school Principal Brian Betts was found shot to death in his home in Silver Spring, Maryland last month. Montgomery County Police have charged Sharif Lancaster and Alante Saunders, both 18 years old, with Betts' murder.

But D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles says both teenagers were already supposed to be in the care of the city's department of youth rehabilitation services, DYRS.

"This is a very disappointing situation, a very tragic situation, where we apparently have a couple of kids who absconded from their confinement," says Nickles.

Another 18-year-old, who Nickles says was also in the DYRS system, has been detained and will likely be charged in Betts' murder.

Nickles says Mayor Adrian Fenty has ordered him to move quickly in investigating what went wrong.

"This is bad," says Nickles. "The mayor and I are committed to look at the files closely, and see if the case was handled properly and see if more systemic reforms are required."

Police say Betts first made contact with one of the suspects through a phone sex chat line. They believe robbery was the motive for the killing.


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