Woodland Hills player's case likely to stay in juvenile courts
It's unlikely the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office will appeal a judge's ruling to send a high school football player's armed robbery case to juvenile court and, even if it did, winning would be “almost impossible,” a legal expert said on Monday.
Harry Randall, 18, of Swissvale could have spent several years in prison if convicted as an adult of robbing a pizza delivery man at gunpoint, but under the juvenile court system, a conviction would mean Randall would be released by his 21st birthday.
Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani on Friday told Randall it would be his “last chance” to stay out of prison. The decision may allow Randall to attend college; he was offered football scholarships by West Virginia, Temple and Georgia Tech.
Randall's attorney, Kaitlin Euler, did not return calls and his mother, Katrina Goodman, could not be reached.
College coaches are not permitted to comment on recruits who have not signed letters of intent, according to NCAA rules, but Woodland Hills head coach George Novak said they knew about the charges against Randall when they offered him scholarships. Mariani's decision hasn't changed their minds.
ESPN recruiting analyst Jared Shanker said a school's administrators may have to agree to offer Randall a scholarship, especially because of scandals at schools such as Penn State and Ohio State that hurt football programs. Penn State faced NCAA sanctions related to a coach's child sex abuse and Ohio State lost bowl eligibility for a year because players traded Buckeye memorabilia for cash and tattoos.
“The coaching staff is going to have to do their due diligence and know there is risk involved,” Shanker said. “More and more, I think there is a significant concern as to the type of player you recruit. All it takes is one bad apple to put a program under the NCAA microscope.”
Mariani told Randall when he moved his case to juvenile court: “I'm not doing this because you're a starting quarterback on the football team. I am doing this because you have athletic abilities that can focus you. The education side of this is much more significant to me than the football side.”
Randall has a juvenile court hearing scheduled for Tuesday in Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
The judge has discretion to decide where the case is tried, as long as the basis for his decision is not improper, said New Castle attorney David Acker, who is not connected with the case.
Mariani's reasoning — that Randall would be better off at college than in prison — was not improper, Acker said.
“Harry hasn't been an angel, but he has the opportunity to do something with his life,” Novak said. “He's always been trustworthy to me. If he said he didn't do it, then I gotta support that.”
Police allege Randall and another man, E.W. Richardson, ordered pizzas on March 6 from Veltre's Pizza and then robbed delivery man Timothy Pfadt at gunpoint of the pizzas and his wallet. Police found Pfadt's wallet, the pizzas and a delivery bag in Randall's bedroom. A stolen shotgun, believed to have been used in the robbery, was under a couch in his house, police said.
The owner of Veltre's Pizza did not return calls. Pfadt could not be reached.
Adam Brandolph is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-391-0927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.