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Teenagers in court on charges relating to Phoebe suicide

Three of the girls accused of bullying Phoebe Prince to death appear in court.

Ashley Longe, left, Flannery Mullins, center, and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, right.
Ashley Longe, left, Flannery Mullins, center, and Sharon Chanon Velazquez, right.

THREE TEENAGERS APPEARED in a Massachussetts juvenile court yesterday on charges relating to the suicide of Phoebe Prince.

Local media reported that prosecutors intend to call up to 50 witnesses to testify against the three accused – Flannery Mullins, Sharon Chanon Velazquez and Ashley Longe.

The teenagers – who were just 16 when the charges were brought against them – sat together on a court bench during yesterday’s pretrial hearing. Phoebe Prince’s aunt, Eileen Moore, was also in court.

Trial dates have already been set for two other of the six teenagers accused of bullying Prince.

The deputy first assistant district attorney for the region, Elizabeth Dunphy Farris, pushed for a trial in December – before district attorney (DA) Elizabeth D. Scheibel, who has been outspoken in her condemnation of the teens, leaves office. The new DA, David Sullivan, has not publicly expressed a view of any of the charges stemming from Phoebe’s suicide.

Farris argued that many of the 40 to 50 witnesses the prosecution intends to call have already moved away from South Hadley to college but will have returned in December for holidays.

But lawyers for the three girls argued that it doesn’t give them enough time to study the mountain of evidence, which includes more than 250 pages of grand jury testimony.

Longe is charged with violation of civil rights as a young offender; Mullins and Velazquez are also charged with violation of civil rights and stalking.

No decision on a trial date was made yesterday, but 8 November was set to determine whether to combine the cases against Velasquez and Mullins. However, Judge Daniel Swords sided with the defendants when he said: “There are all sorts of issues here,” he said. “This case isn’t going to get heard in December.”

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Jennifer O'Connell

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