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Charges dropped against developmentally disabled teen

The King County Prosecutor’s Office has dropped its charge against a developmentally disabled student who allegedly attacked a special education teacher on Dec. 17.

The prosecutor’s office decision was based in part on Juvenile Court Judge James Cayce’s ruling that the boy was incompetent to stand trial and on expert opinion that indicated the prospect of him becoming competent was remote, said prosecutor’s office spokesman Dan Donohoe.

According to a mental evaluation, the teen has mild mental retardation and developmental disabilities that prohibit him from understanding the nature of the proceedings against him and keep him from contributing to his own defense.

The prosecutor’s office dismissed the case for now, but it could be reopened later, Donohoe said.

The teen-ager, who was transferred back to Kern County, Calif. last week, is not expected to return to Washington. He currently is in juvenile detention and awaiting a hearing scheduled for March 6.

“Ultimately, the California court will make a decision as to his placement,” Donohoe said.

The boy was arrested and charged with second-degree assault after he allegedly attacked Federal Way teacher Jennifer Panico-DiGiorgio, 25, when she tried to get him to do classwork. According to court papers, the boy grabbed her and slammed her head into a desk, pinned her with his knee and punched her several times.

DiGiorgio was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way and was later transferred to Harborview Medical Center for treatment of head injuries. She has not returned to work.

The teen-ager had a history of violent behavior and sexual assault in California, where he lived prior to moving to Washington.

A Kern County judge found the teen to be a sex offender and “a mentally retarded person who is a danger to himself and others” who had been removed from several schools, once for attacking a teacher, according to court papers.

Federal Way officials said they only received oral reports that he once slapped a teacher.

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