Paragraph 20 reads [in part]: "His mother and stepfather sent him to a psychiatrist at Fort Belvoir. Thedoctor started prescribing Effexor for Rody one month before the murder."
Pargarphs 26, through 28 read: "Last Friday, Meleen was expected to argue a motion to suppress Rody’s statement to police as well argue a motion of "involuntary intoxication" since Rody was prescribed a medication risky to youth."
"'The Food and Drug Administration has required pharmaceutical companies to issue warnings concerning Effexor and an entire class of anti-depressants that are believed to pose a risk of violent and suicidal behavior in adolescents,' according to a motion filed by Meleen last July."
"She will present the effects of Effexor on adolescents and her client as mitigating evidence when Rody is sentenced this fall."
15-Year-Old Pleads Guilty to Murder
Plea agreement ensures that Fort Belvoir teenager will begin his sentence in a juvenile facility until he is 21 years old.
By Ken Moore
June 29, 2006
Rody Phillips, 15, could face life in prison after pleading guilty to first-degree murder, three days before his trial was scheduled to begin.
The plea agreement ensures that Rody, 14 at the time he stabbed 7-Eleven clerk Sun Ku Kwon to death on Dec. 6, 2004, will begin serving his sentence in a juvenile facility.
"Given the fact that the defendant just turned 14 two weeks before [the murder] and given his lack of experience with the [criminal justice] system, we wanted to give the court the widest range given the seriousness of the crime," said Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh during the plea hearing Friday, June 23. "It seems overly harsh to sentence him in an adult facility given his immaturity."
Although Rody was charged as an adult in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Judge Marcus D. Williams could still have sentenced him as a juvenile even if a jury convicted him of murder.
But the plea agreement ensures that Rody won’t immediately be placed in an adult prison.
"He would go to a juvenile facility where he has the treatment options that he needs," said Crystal Meleen, defense attorney, following the 30-minute plea hearing.
As a serious juvenile offender, Rody will be monitored by Williams until he turns 21, Meleen said. "The court will have hearings and keep track of his progress," she said.
Rody faces a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison for murder; he also faces two to 10 years for attempted robbery.
Judge Williams could, ultimately, impose or suspend any amount of that time after Rody serves time in the juvenile justice system until he is 21 years old.
At his plea hearing, Judge Williams asked Rody if his parents were in the courtroom. Rody’s mother sat with Rody’s stepfather, wiping away tears throughout the hearing.
Williams asked if Rody, who last completed seventh grade, understands that he’s giving up his right to a trial and his right to appeal the case.
Rody said, "Nobody’s pressuring me, I’m doing this on my own free will."
ON DEC. 6, 2004, Rody walked around the Fort Belvoir base after he woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep, said Morrogh.
Wearing camouflage clothing and black army boots, Rody stole knives and ornamental hand grenades from the commissary on the base, the prosecutor said. Rody eventually ended up at the 7-Eleven at 5638 Mount Vernon Highway where he waited outside until customers left around 5 a.m.
Sun Ku Kwon, 60, was working the midnight shift with another clerk and was stocking sandwich shelves when Rody approached him from behind.
"Call 911, I’ve been stabbed," Kwon said, according to Morrogh.
"Rody then said, ‘All I want is your money. I have a hand grenade,’" Morrogh said.
Despite his mortal stab wound, Kwon ran outside with the other 7-Eleven clerk thinking there was going to be an explosion from the grenade, while Rody escaped on foot through the woods near the store.
Kwon didn’t die right away, Morrogh said, and suffered from a five-inch wound to his upper back that punctured his thorax.
Fairfax police later found Rody walking down Route One. He gave police a lengthy statement after being read his rights, Morrogh said.
RODY’S PARENTS TRIED to get treatment for their son in the months before the crime. Rody battled depression following his move to Fort Belvior from Texas, where he had lived with his father and stepmother.
His mother and stepfather sent him to a psychiatrist at Fort Belvoir. The doctor started prescribing Effexor for Rody one month before the murder.
Rody said "he was hearing voices that were telling him to hurt somebody," Morrogh said. "In the past, he heard voices that were telling him to rob someone but he knew that was wrong."
One side was telling him one thing, another side the other, the prosecutor said. "He was trying to resist bad thoughts but the voices were telling him otherwise."
During court proceedings the last 18 months, Meleen filed motions showing that she intended to question Rody’s sanity at the time of the offense. Rody had been evaluated at the University of Virginia’s Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy in Charlottesville.
Last Friday, Meleen was expected to argue a motion to suppress Rody’s statement to police as well argue a motion of "involuntary intoxication" since Rody was prescribed a medication risky to youth.
"The Food and Drug Administration has required pharmaceutical companies to issue warnings concerning Effexor and an entire class of anti-depressants that are believed to pose a risk of violent and suicidal behavior in adolescents," according to a motion filed by Meleen last July.
She will present the effects of Effexor on adolescents and her client as mitigating evidence when Rody is sentenced this fall.
ALTHOUGH HE is separated from adult inmates, Rody has been jailed at the Adult Detention Center since being transferred in May 2005 from the juvenile detention center. "The defendant has stated that he is having thoughts and ‘visions’ of killing other juveniles housed in the facility who have ‘irritated him,’" according to an emergency transfer motion filed by the prosecution 13 months ago.
But since Rody stopped taking the prescribed medication, his grades improved, he is no longer a suicide threat, and his mental health has improved, Meleen said in April 2005 when she requested that Rody be evaluated to determine his sanity at the time of the offense.
Judge Williams asked if Kwon’s family had any reaction to the plea agreement made Friday. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney has attempted to contact the family, but they moved back to Korea after picking up Kwon’s belongings, Morrogh said.