Shirley Armstrong Staff writer
Section: LOCAL,  Page: B4

Date: Friday, March 7, 1986

An Albany youth, who was 14 when he committed robberies described by a prosecutor as "so violent and so diabolical" that they "cry out for the full wrath of the criminal justice system," was sentenced by Albany County Judge Joseph Harris Thursday to 4 to 10 years in prison.

Anthony Davis, now 15, of Third Street, who had pleaded guilty to first- and second-degree robbery, was either the "perpetrator or director" of violence during a series of vicious robberies in the city in November and December, said Assistant District Attorney Christopher Rutnik, chief of the major offense bureau. Davis' term, the maximum allowed for a juvenile offender, combines consecutive terms of 3 to 9 years for the first-degree robbery conviction and 1 to 3 years for second- degree robbery.

Three other 15-year-old boys, who had pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery in connection with the various incidents, were sentenced to 2 1/3 to 7 years. They are Jason Graham, 305 Colonie St.; Ricky Thornton, 198 Ida Yarborough Drive, and Corey S. Willis, 76 Maguire Ave.

The four, prosecuted as adults under the Juvenile Offender Law, were denied youthful offender treatment by Harris, who saidthe "mayhem" caused by the defendants, including injuries to a woman who was beaten with a brass- knobbed cane, "cannot be tolerated" at any age.

Rutnik detailed the robbery of Elizabeth Malen, who was knocked down by Davis in her Lark Street toy shop on Dec. 18. When she tried to defend herself with a cane, he said, Davis wrested it from her and beat her about the head and face, inflictingbruises and broken teeth. He said Davis continued to rain blows on the woman as she lay crying for mercy, even though his companions had already stolen money and left.

He noted that Malen eventually struggled into the street, where a florist shop owner, Jim Romano, saw her plight, collared Willis and made a citizen's arrest. Malen, he said, was so traumatized that she has closed the shop.

Other crimes which Rutnik said were the work of various members of the group included a robbery at the Central Clothing Store, Central Avenue, where a middle-aged woman was knocked down; a purse snatching from an 80-year-old woman who was thrown to the ground and suffered a fractured shoulder, and a robbery at a Central Avenue paint store.

During the latter incident, Rutnik said, the 79-year-old proprietor was forced to a back room where he was tied to a pipe with a rope. He said Thornton grabbed the victim's genitals andthreatened further injury if he did not tell where the money was located.

Rutnik said the group preyed upon "the frail, the defenseless, the elderly." While youths under 16 are "capable of violent crimes," he said, sentences are "limited by the law."

Davis' attorney, James Long, told the court the district attorney "often likes to ignore" the fact that the individual as well as the crime must be considered. He said it is pointless to "throw (a young person) into a cell and lock the door," and that efforts must be made toward rehabilitation. "What better time to start rehabilitation than at 14?" he asked.

Harris said rehabilitation should be started before a crime is committed. "What happens to all the millions we spend on ourschools?" he queried. "I am not blaming the schools, but there should be some research" into the problem.

The judge pointed out that the Division For Youth, which takes custody of a juvenile, "will not just lock him in a cell," but will provide resources for his benefit. He said opportunities will be available, and "the person must be responsible for his own action."

Harris read portions of a Probation Department report, including a victim impact statement, in which Malen declared she would feel "violated" and "let down by the system" if her attacker were "dealt with leniently."

All four defendants appeared before Harris with female relatives at their sides - two mothers, a sister, a grandmother. Attorneys Thomas Flannery, representing Thornton, Thomas Dulin for Graham and Susan Milstein representing Willis, minimized their clients' participation in the crimes. Dulin said Graham was"the least culpable.

Only Graham availed himself of an opportunity to address the court. He said, "I'm sorry."