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One Boy Pleads Guilty In Cello-Smashing

May 20, 1987

DULUTH, Minn. (AP) _ One 15-year-old boy pleaded guilty and a second was ordered to stand trial as an adult in the destruction of a $13,000 cello.

The two Duluth boys were arrested April 11 after Betsy Highland discovered her purse and cello missing from her car. The cello was found smashed nearby.

John Slowikowski pleaded guilty Tuesday in District Court to charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and aggravated criminal destruction of property. He originally was charged in juvenile court but told a judge two weeks ago he wanted to be tried as an adult.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutor John DeSanto agreed to drop charges of felony theft, receiving stolen property and obstructing arrest.

According to Slowikowski, he had drunk more than 15 beers that night before going out with the second youth to steal a car.

When the boys came upon Highland’s car, they took her purse and Slowikowski grabbed the cello. When he realized it was not a guitar, he smashed it on the pavement, he said.

Asked why, he said, ″I don’t know. There was no apparent reason.″

Judge Jack Litman ordered Slowikowski held in the St. Louis County Jail pending his sentencing June 11. Douglas Merritt, Slowikowski’s lawyer, said the guideline sentence for the charges is a jail term of less than one year, followed by two years of probation.

Judge Robert Campbell ruled Tuesday that the second boy’s long juvenile record and repeated failures to change his behavior warrant treating him as an adult. He was transferred from the Arrowhead Juvenile Center to the county jail, where he was being held in lieu of $10,000 bail.

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