19-year-old awaiting trial on torture charges asks for drug rehab
MANCHESTER - A 19-year-old who is awaiting trial on torture-related charges went before a judge Wednesday to ask to be let out of jail so he could enroll in a drug-rehab program geared toward teenagers.
The lawyer for Ismael Bangs said the truth will eventually come out in August, when trial is expected to begin on charges that Bangs tortured a 15-year-old last July.
Police said at the time that Bangs used super glue to shut the boy's mouth, dripped burning rubber on his chest and put a hot knife to his skin.
Already, a co-defendant - Yvens Luclaise, 25 - has been convicted by a jury on felony assault charges. And Bangs faces possible deportation to his home country of Sierra Leone if he is convicted, according to Karen Gorham, a prosecutor in the Hillsborough County Attorney's Office.
Bangs has been in jail since his arrest.
'These past 11 months, I've done more growing up than I have in my whole life,' he told Superior Court Judge Gillian Abramson. She made no decision, but a ruling is expected within a week.
Bangs also admitted he made a mistake, but the blame is out of proportion to what he did, he said.
Bangs is being held for lack of $100,000 bail. His defense lawyer, Ken Bernard, asked it be reduced to personal recognizance bail as long as Bangs participates in Teen Challenge.
Bangs has said he has been accepted into the program.
But the Manchester campus director at Teen Challenge said the program would probably not take anyone involved in a violent crime. Pastor Stephen Gadomski said he could not confirm or dispute anyone's enrollment because of confidentiality provisions.
'It's probably not true because we deal mostly with addictions and substance abuse,' Gadomski said.
Friends and family of Bangs were present for the hearing, and Bangs said he is a role model for them.