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COLONIE: Making amends

On "Mischief Night," the night before Halloween, Martinez, then a 14-year-old student at Colonie Central, threw "flour bombs," sacks of flour that burst on impact, at a home, he said. The flour was mistaken for anthrax and a hazardous material call went out over emergency radios. The entire county haz/mat team responded, said Martinez.

The next day, on Halloween, with a backpack of flour bombs, Martinez was pulled aside by an off-duty Colonie officer. That officer found the flour bombs. They were matched to the incident the night before. He was arrested.

"They briefed me about it really well," said Martinez, when he first learned that he would be judged and sentenced in Youth Court. "It wasn't just a slap on the wrist; it was eye opening."

Martinez went on to serve out his 302-hour sentence, spending the last two of them as a juror in Youth Court proceedings. Most who come through the courts spend the last hours of their service in the court. Martinez's first case involved a girl who stole $200 in jewelry from Boscov's, he remembered. Behind closed doors with his fellow jurors, he recommended 300 hours of community service, he joked. She was sentenced to 100, he said.

Martinez went on to enroll in the Youth Court program, which now has 120 active members and a pool of jurors 800 strong, said Schwarz-Lockart.

After completing an eight-week training course, Martinez went on to serve in each capacity of the court. It sparked his interest in law, he said. Now he plans to earn a criminal justice degree, go to law school and work his way up to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ""

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