Teen jailed for allegedly violating probation in accidental shooting

Hearing set after Judge told of violations

jkegley@herald-leader.comDecember 16, 2011 

Last month, Fayette Circuit Judge Ernesto Scorsone gave Jamar Mays a second chance, granting probation to the Lexington teen who was incarcerated for nearly two years for the 2009 shooting death of his best friend. But Scorsone told Mays he had less than a month to prove himself and was on an "extremely short leash."

On Thursday, Scorsone reined in that leash, sending Mays, 18, back to jail for at least a week pending a hearing to decide whether his probation will be revoked.

Mays' probation officer, James Hamlin, filed a motion to revoke the teen's probation, citing three violations: failure to report to the probation office, failure to complete community service and failure to pay on court-ordered accounts.

Scorsone said the motion gave him more than enough probable cause to have Mays arrested on the spot.

"He is going to be arrested now and he is going to be in custody until we have a full-blown hearing," the judge said. Mays scowled but said nothing as he walked into the prisoner holding area.

The probation officers' motion caught Mays' attorneys by surprise. Public defender Erica Roland and juvenile post-disposition attorney La Mer Kyle-Griffiths said they expected to present the judge with paperwork documenting Mays' accomplishments at Thursday's hearing.

They said that they thought Mays was succeeding in his community service and that they didn't know what "court-ordered accounts" he allegedly hadn't made payments on. They said Thursday's hearing was the first they heard of the probation officer's motion.

Afterward, they told reporters that Mays had been working at Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Lexington, where his mother works.

Scorsone originally granted Mays probation on Nov. 17.

Scorsone gave Mays five years' probation instead of sending him to an adult prison. He ordered Mays to do 30 hours of community service each week until he finds a job or enrolls in a school. And Scorsone said Mays could not be around guns or gun paraphernalia.

Mays pleaded guilty to manslaughter in February in the shooting death of Ali Shalash. Mays and Shalash were alone at Mays' home on Dorset Drive on Nov. 23, 2009, when Shalash, 17, was shot in the head.

Mays, who was 16 when the shooting occurred, initially was charged with murder after blaming the shooting on a masked man. He pleaded guilty to an amended charge of second-degree involuntary manslaughter, admitting a gun he was handling fired, and the bullet hit Shalash.

Mays, who turned 18 in June, was sentenced in February to 10 years in prison and admitted to a juvenile detention center. Under state law, a juvenile sentenced as an adult must have another sentencing hearing after turning 18.

In June, Mays' attorneys, public defenders Tom Griffiths and Roland, asked the judge to allow Mays to continue a counseling program at a juvenile center for at least five more months.

Mays' attorneys said he had successfully completed the counseling program and requirements for a high school equivalency degree.

"He has people to help him stay on the right path," Griffiths told the judge last month.

One of those people, who identified himself as Mays' brother but wouldn't give his name, said after Thursday's hearing that he had driven Mays to his community service appointments. .

He said he didn't understand why the probation officer didn't talk to Mays rather than surprising him with the allegations at the hearing.

During next week's hearing, set for Thursday, the judge could choose to let Mays continue on probation, alter the conditions of the probation or revoke it.

Mays will be held at the Fayette County Detention Center until the hearing.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service