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Troubled teen gets second chance

Christina Proctor

There are some moments in life that set people down different paths. Pamela Kinsey knew her son was facing one of those moments.

“It’s funny how we put our lives in 12 people’s hands. It’s the best system we have,” she said Thursday as she waited for a jury to pass judgment on her son, Ryan Kelly Kinsey.

It wasn’t the first time her son had been in trouble, but now he was facing a possible second strike for residential burglary and a prison sentence of 9 to 17 years. The charge came while Ryan, 19, was out of jail awaiting sentencing on an assault with a deadly weapon charge.

Ryan hit a bus driver on the head with his skateboard after the driver asked him and his friends to leave the bus. He admitted later that he was showing off for his friends. He was trying to be the “biggest, baddest one.”

It was just days before his sentencing in the assault case that Ryan was caught with two friends breaking into a house on the 2600 block of Kubel Avenue.

One of the other teens, Anthony J. Marino, 18, pleaded guilty to residential burglary. He never went to trial. Marino is out on bail and awaiting sentencing. A third suspect is 17 years old, still considered a juvenile, so his records are confidential.

Ryan was not yet on probation for the assault when he was arrested for the burglary. Judge Suzanne Kingsbury gave him a window at his sentencing.

The agreement was reached with the full cooperation and endorsement of the bus driver. Ryan was sentenced to six months in El Dorado County Jail and three years’ probation. The district attorney had offered Ryan a plea agreement. If he kept out of trouble during the three years’ probation the assault against a transportation driver charge would be reduced to a simple assault, which is considered a “wobbler” felony. Ryan could then go before a judge and ask that it be reduced to a misdemeanor after he completed his probation.

As he awaited the jury’s decision on the burglary charge Thursday, Ryan realized that window might be shut.

“My mom tried to keep me from going out with my friends that night. She knew I would get in trouble. One of my friends had alcohol. Every time I drink I end up in here,” he said, hitting the close wall of the jail’s visiting room with his hand.

“It was poor judgment, but I wasn’t out to steal anything,” Ryan added.

“He admitted to trespassing and breaking the window, but he had no intent to burglarize,” Pamela said. “This is his last chance.”

Pamela said her son is an alcoholic, like his father. She said she tried to get help for him before his first arrest, but found none.

“There are no programs until they’re caught,” Pamela said. “I didn’t have the money to pay for the counseling he needed. He’s just a kid that acted out and did some stupid things.”

The jury agreed with Pamela. After deliberating for three hours they unanimously decided that Ryan was not guilty of burglary, the felony, but he was guilty of the misdemeanor charges of vandalism and trespassing.

“I’ve got to do something with my life,” Ryan said after hearing the jury’s verdict. “I need people with lives around me. Alcohol just takes over your mind. It makes you see your own fantasy life – not reality. My problem was I didn’t want to start from scratch and work my way up. I know now that it all comes down to dealing with it or living in here for the rest of your life,” he said, gesturing again to the jail walls.

“I was doing pretty good and then I just threw it all away. I want a life.”

Ryan has a second chance. It’s unlikely he will be able to enter the military as he once planned. The district attorney’s office will probably oppose any motion to reduce his assault conviction and that strike will follow him for the rest of his life.

Ryan said he wants to get into a treatment plan for his alcoholism and he’s been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the jail. A hearing on his misdemeanor convictions is scheduled for May 8.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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