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Young Suspects Released Until Trial

August 14, 1998

CHICAGO (AP) _ Two boys, ages 7 and 8, were ordered released Thursday into home confinement while they await trial on charges they killed an 11-year-old girl for her shiny blue bicycle.

The two boys will be confined to their homes for 24 hours a day, and the court will use an electronic monitoring system to ensure its instructions are adhered to, a juvenile court judge said.

Cook County Juvenile Court Judge Gerald Winiecki said he had no alternative under Illinois law but to release the boys, as they are both too young to be sent to a state youth prison. Any youth convicted in juvenile court can only be held until age 21.

The boys are named in juvenile delinquency petitions alleging they killed Ryan Harris, who was struck in the head, sexually molested and suffocated. Her panties were stuck in her mouth; grass and leaves were stuffed in her nostrils.

Police say the 7-year-old hit Ryan in the head with a rock, knocking her off her bike. The boys allegedly hid the bike in some weeded lots, but it was gone when they returned to look for it. Ryan’s body was found July 28.

After Ryan was killed, the 7-year-old allegedly told police he went to his grandmother’s house to play with a new puppy, while the 8-year-old went home to watch cartoons.

Neighbors and shopkeepers describe the 7-year-old as an aggressive child who was good with his hands, loved candy and bikes, and earned spare change doing yard work or helping out in the local grocery.

The 8-year-old, who recently received a bike as a birthday present, is an honor student. He was so shy that he rarely left his yard, neighbors said.

The accusations stunned a city that has agonized before over children who kill children.

This is just the latest sensational case in Chicago in which children have been charged with killing other children.

Four years ago, Robert ``Yummy″ Sandifer, 11, was killed in a chain of events that began when he fatally shot a 14-year-old girl in a botched plan to shoot a rival gang member. He, in turn, was shot to death in a killing that prosecutors said was ordered by gang leaders to silence him.

That same year, two boys, 10 and 11, dangled, then dropped 5-year-old Eric Morse 14 floors to his death in a Chicago housing project after he refused to steal candy for them.

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