Fort Lauderdale— - The lawyer for a Pompano Beach teenager accused of trying to kill a Deerfield Beach Middle School student in a fit of text rage wants the victim to recount what she remembers about the messages and threats that led up to the attack.
Josie Lou Ratley, now 16, suffered irreversible brain damage as a result of the March 17, 2010 assault at a school bus stop, according to the doctors who treated her.
Her attacker, Wayne Treacy, also 16, has been in jail in Broward ever since, charged as an adult with first-degree attempted murder and facing a prison term as high as 50 years.
Treacy's lawyer, Russell Williams, has not denied his client's actions that day, but has indicated that mental health will play a key role in his defense. On Thursday, he said he plans to argue at the trial that prosecutors should not have charged Treacy with such a serious crime.
"They're overcharging," Williams said. "I think that's the best that can be said for how they're approaching this."
Williams has never said what he believes the charge should be, but lesser charges range from aggravated battery to attempted second-degree murder.
Treacy, Williams and prosecutor Maria Schneider were in court on Thursday to tell Broward Circuit Judge David Haimes they are almost ready to set a trial date. Williams said he wants Ratley deposed, but did not specify in court what he plans to do with her testimony.
According to previously released documents, Ratley and Treacy engaged in a profanity-laced text message exchange in the hours before the attack. A message from Ratley's phone seemed to callously dismiss Treacy by telling him to visit his dead brother, who had committed suicide five months earlier.
Enraged, Treacy immediately threatened to kill Ratley, then texted two friends to repeat the threat.
Prosecutors say those text messages show premeditation, despite Treacy's later claim that he did not intend to follow through on them.
Treacy, who attended Pompano Beach High School but was home that day, bicycled three miles to Deerfield Beach Middle to find Ratley, helped by a friend.
Treacy pounced on Ratley, knocking her to the ground and stomping on her head repeatedly until a teacher tackled him and ended the assault.
Treacy's friend, Kayla Manson, 14, is charged as a juvenile with acting as Treacy's accomplice for helping him find Ratley.
Lawyers on both sides said they want to bring the case to a jury this fall. Williams said he hopes lawyers get to question Ratley before the next scheduled court date, Oct. 5.
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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