By Michael Kaplan
A former student charged with premeditated attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon will be arraigned Friday at Los Angeles Superior Court Van Nuys after posting bail of $1 million.
Rupert Ditsworth allegedly beat Elizabeth Barcay ’07 with a claw hammer on May 14, causing lacerations to Barcay’s head, face and legs, District Attorney Lisa Tanner said.
Ditsworth was initially arrested on May 15 and arraigned on May 18 in Juvenile Court. He was ordered to remain in a psychiatric hospital where he had been since the attack. He was rearrested July 2, one day after his 18th birthday, and charged as an adult. He was released on bail later that day.
On Friday, Ditsworth will enter a plea of guilty, not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. If Ditsworth is found guilty of premeditated attempted murder, he could face up to life in prison with the possibility of parole, Tanner said.
The preliminary hearing would ideally be two weeks after the arraignment, Tanner said. However, the defense attorney may call for a continuance or a motion. The defendant usually calls the shots in these situations because he is the one entering the plea, and we must acknowledge his constitutional rights.
“Obviously people are interested, but it’s kind of a reach for us to continue our involvement in the matter,” President Thomas C. Hudnut said. ”It didn’t happen on school time or school property, Rupert was immediately expelled, and he is no longer a student of the school or a graduate of the school.”
Since Ditsworth is being tried as an adult, the arraignment and the following hearings will be open to the public. According to Los Angeles County records, over 400 juveniles were tried as adults in 2005 and 2006, and that pace has continued throughout the first half of 2007.
The decision to try Ditsworth as an adult was based on the seriousness of the injuries to the victim and after further review of the facts, Jane Robinson, a spokeswoman for the District Attorney, said.
“Our job is to validate Lizzie’s story and make sure it doesn’t get downplayed and painted something that it’s not,” Barbara Hayden, Barcay’s mother, said. “For Lizzie’s mental health, we need to convey the degree of brutality of this act. Once we do this, it is society’s job to determine a punishment.”
After attending her senior prom last May and her graduation last June, Barcay continues to make a strong recovery and is currently enrolled in Williams College, Hudnut said.
“We believe that Lizzie has moved on a little more than we have,” Hayden said. “She truly believes that Rupert was intended on killing someone that day and if she hadn’t intervened, someone else could have been the victim. She believes that she would have felt extremely guilty if he would have gone on and killed someone later that day and she didn’t try and talk to him.”