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Bus brawl investigation all but concluded

"Kitsap County Sheriff detectives have essentially completed their investigation of the May 18 school bus brawl that sent 15-year-old Jeremy Crumley to the hospital with brain injuries. The investigators' findings have been turned over to the county prosecuting attorney to decide what charges - if any - to bring against a 14-year-old boy.The boy, who was arrested the day of the incident and spent the night in the county juvenile detention facility, was to have been arraigned May 26. But prosecutors delayed the proceding until June 9 to give investigators a chance to complete their work. Except for a few final details, that investigation is now finished. I have an inch-thick file on my desk to go through, said deputy prosecutor Jennifer Irvine, who is handing the case and will recommend whether or not to bring charges against the suspect. I have a pretty good idea what happened, but there are a couple more things we need to look at before we come to any conclusions. Depending on a number of factors, the suspect could be charged with second or third-degree assault, which are felonies, or fourth-degree assault, a misdemeanor. Or charges could be dropped entirely.Typically, incidents like this aren't criminal matters, said Mike Davis, head of detectives for the Sheriff Department and a member of the School Board of the South Kitsap School District, where the fight occurred As a rule, they're handled administratively by the school district. Unfortunately, the victim in this case suffered fairly serious injuries, and that changes the way you look at it.Davis, who helped direct the investigation, described the incident as essentially a short-lived fistfight, a classic schoolyard fight, but wouldn't speculate about how the prosecutors would handle it.They have an obligation to seek justice for both sides, he said.According to witnesses' reports to investigators, Crumley and a female student got into a shoving match over a seat on the bus en route to Cedar Heights Junior High School May 18. The male suspect intervened and Crumley threw a punch, officials said.In the ensuing melee, Crumley was struck several times in the head, but doctors believe his injuries resulted from a temporary loss of blood to the brain suffered when the suspect either choked Crumley or attempted to restrain him with a headlock. The distinction is an important one for prosecutors.The question of whether he was being choked or simply held in a headlock goes to intent and would have an impact on what charges we file, Irvine said.Her decision will also take into account Crumley's physical condition, which appears to have improved markedly. Crumley was discharged from Tacoma's Mary Bridge Children's Hospital May 26.He appears to be doing very, very well, said hospital spokesman Todd Kelley. He still has some weakness on his right side and he's probably looking at some physical therapy, but his speech doesn't seem to impaired.Kelley said it would still be several weeks before doctors could determine the extent of Crumley's injuries.Meanwhile, the school district is continuing its own investigation of the incident. District official Rick Basnaw said both boys could face disciplinary actions, but punishment might have to be delayed until next fall because there are only a few weeks of school remaining before summer vacation.Basnaw would not comment on whether either of the combatants had a history of discipline problems."

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