Judge sends armed robbery case against Woodland Hills quarterback to juvenile court
A football-loving judge sent a sought-after high school quarterback's robbery case to juvenile court, likely sparing him the possibility of a long prison sentence and leading prosecutors to ask whether he's getting special treatment.
Harry Randall, 18, of Swissvale could have spent 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 have to be released by his 21st birthday.
“This is the last chance you're ever going to have to keep yourself from going to prison for five to 10 years. I hope you act on it,” Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Anthony M. Mariani said on Friday during a hearing before sending charges against Randall to juvenile court.
Before ruling, Mariani announced that he is a professional football fan and lamented that football players in Pittsburgh sometimes get special treatment.
Assistant District Attorney Melissa Byrnes questioned whether sending Randall's case to juvenile court would be giving him special treatment. Randall was arrested twice before as a juvenile.
“I don't believe that every individual that comes after him and every football player that comes after him will understand that there are consequences for your actions,” Byrnes said.
Randall is a quarterback from Woodland Hills, a school that has produced several pro and college players.
Head football coach George Novak testified that West Virginia, Temple and Georgia Tech had offered Randall full scholarships to play football.
The New York Jets in November signed Randall's brother, Rontez Miles, who attended California University of Pennsylvania.
Randall has a juvenile court hearing scheduled for Tuesday at the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center.
“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,” Mariani said, adding that the colleges and universities recruiting Randall will give him an opportunity for an education regardless of whether he advances his football career. “The education side of this is much more significant to me than the football side.”
Police allege Randall and another man, E.W. Richardson, ordered pizzas on March 6 from Veltre's Pizza then robbed delivery man Timothy Pfadt at gunpoint of the pizzas and his wallet. Police later found the driver's wallet, the pizzas and a delivery bag in Randall's bedroom and a stolen shotgun, believed to have been used in the robbery, under a couch in his house.
A man who answered the phone at Veltre's was unable to talk on Friday. Pfadt could not be reached for comment.
Randall was two months shy of his 18th birthday in March. He was originally charged as an adult, but Kaitlin Euler, his attorney, petitioned Mariani to move the case to juvenile court. Rather than serving five or six years in prison, Randall could graduate from college in that time, Euler said.
Novak suspended Randall from the school's football program upon learning about his possible involvement in the robbery but allowed him to return to the team for his senior season this fall.
Novak said Randall made the honor roll recently and has a 2.5 grade-point average. Football keeps Randall out of trouble, his coach said.
“When he's with the team, when he's in school, when his time is taken up, he doesn't get into trouble,” Novak said.
He said several coaches and former players have become mentors to Randall.
A 2012 study by the University of Michigan and California State University, Dominguez Hills found that high schools with high rates of sports participation had lower rates of crime and suspension.
Woodland Hills lost the WPIAL Class AAAA championship to Central Catholic, 27-7, on Nov. 23 at Heinz Field. Randall scored his team's only touchdown on a third-quarter run.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or firstname.lastname@example.org.