STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- Two teens accused of sending threatening messages on social media following the Steubenville rape trial will appear in court on the charges later this month.
Steubenville police were notified about the posts, both on Twitter, and on Monday arrested the 16-year-old girl, a relative of Ma'lik Richmond. The 15-year-old turned herself in the same day, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said.
Ma'lik and another Steubenville High School football player, Trent Mays, were found guilty Sunday of raping a 16-year-old girl after a drunken party in August.
The girls appeared at a detention proceeding this morning in Jefferson County Juvenile Court. They are charged with intimidation of a victim, a felony, aggravated menacing and telecommunications harassment, both misdemeanors.
Jefferson County assistant prosecutor Sam Pate said it appeared few lessons have been learned about the seriousness of posting on social media.
"It's beyond me why these young people believe it's OK to post things of this nature on social media," he said
Asked if the tweets were directed toward the rape victim, Sheriff Abdalla said "no question."
"We're monitoring Twitter 24 hours a day," he said.
Sheriff Abdalla said the 15-year-old started apologizing on Twitter for making death threats, but she was charged for only the tweet authorities could find.
Fran Carinci, attorney for the 15-year-old girl, said her client is a good student who's never been in trouble before.
"I think, first of all, we need to calm down and reflect [about what] the kids really said and if it's a genuine threat," she said. "We are operating under a heightened sense of hysteria."
The girl posted that she would beat up Jane Doe, presumably the victim in the rape trial.
Ms. Carinci also said her client was herself attacked on social media for supporting one of the defendants in the rape case, who is a friend.
Raven Harris, Ma'lik Richmond's first cousin, said her sister, the 16-year-old defendant, was quoting lyrics by Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill in her tweet. Ms. Harris is the girl's guardian.
The girl's tweet was: "You ripped my family apart, you made my cousin cry, so when I see you. . . it's going to be a homicide."
The lyric in the rapper's song "Traumatized" is: "You ripped my family apart and made my momma cry. So when I see you . . . it's gon' be a homicide."
Ms. Harris said her family has received numerous threats throughout the trial.
"People post lyrics every day about murder. They might be murderers for real," she said.
The teens will appear in court for an adjudicatory hearing March 27.
Molly Born: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1944. First Published March 19, 2013 4:45 AM