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BAIL SET FOR 2 BREAKOUT SUSPECTS

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A judge on Wednesday set bail for two of the four teenagers accused of trying to break out of Decker Lake Youth Center.

The ruling is the first blow to the state's new serious youth offender law, which is intended to crack down on juveniles with significant histories of delinquency.Joshua Corwell, 17; Billy Rohwedder, 16; David Pantelakis, 17; and Travis Hards, 17, were all charged with one count each of assault by a prisoner and attempted escape, both third-degree felonies, for trying to climb over the fence of Decker Lake on July 5.

The teens also allegedly wielded clubs to corral two counselors at the center into a shower.

Defense attorneys asked a judge to set bail for the boys weeks ago, after they were transferred to adult court under the new law. Two magistrates declined, noting the boys' extensive "rap" sheets, which include referrals to juvenile court for burglary, theft and assault.

But 3rd District Judge Timothy Hansen said he had no legal reason to hold the teens in jail without bail, noting the state had not presented him with any "independent evidence" to support the current charges.

So he set a $50,000 bond for Corwell and Rohwedder; the other two boys are expected to seek specific amounts at a hearing on Oct. 17. A trial for all four is scheduled to begin Oct. 30.

Families of the two who finally received bail Wednesday will either have to come up with $5,000 each for a bondsman or the full $50,000 to spring their sons. Hanson ruled he would not accept property bonds or guarantees of third persons who are not qualified bail bond sureties.

Neither of the boys had bailed out of jail by press time Thursday.

Salt Lake District Attorney Neal Gunnarson was disappointed with the ruling. "I'm hopeful they don't make it out because I consider them a grave risk to the community," he said.

Gunnarson argued against bail in a hearing before Hanson last week, citing the teens' rap sheets and the current charges. He said bail for them would be tantamount to a convict committing a felony in prison and getting out by posting a bond.

"This will send a message to every kid in juvenile lockup that all they have to do for freedom is assault a guard or try to break out," he said.

Gunnarson said state Senate President Lane Beattie has promised to try to close the loophole in the new law that allowed the teens to get bail. The current law fails to address the issue for kids who commit a felony while in secure care; an amendment would allow courts to presume no bail for such cases.