Hearing postponed for teen held in trail assaults

Aug. 06, 2014 @ 04:31 PM

A teen charged with assaulting and robbing people on the American Tobacco Trail had his hearing delayed Wednesday in Durham County Superior Court.

Justin Sturn, 17, is accused of punching a bicyclist about 12:30 p.m. June 5 as the man rode his bike on the trail between Otis and Fayetteville streets. The victim said the assailant said nothing and took nothing.
The next day, according to arrest warrants, Sturn stole a cellphone and iPod from a man walking northeast on the trail behind Hillside High School. Sturn allegedly approached the man and a woman and asked to use the man's cellphone. When the man refused, Sturn allegedly punched him in the face.
Witnesses told police the attacker was with a group of teens when the assaults happened.
Durham Public Schools officials said Sturn was a Hillside student last year.
Since his arrest in June, Sturn has been in the Durham County Jail under bonds totaling $96,000. That includes bonds for unrelated Durham break-in charges he also faces. He is slated to appear on those charges Aug. 19. His new court date on the trail attack charges is Sept. 2.
Sturn is charged with common law robbery, felony conspiracy and simple assault.
During Sturn's initial court appearance in June, District Court Judge William Marsh refused a defense request to lower his bond, and added: "Durham gets a bad rap for a few things, but (the Tobacco Trail) is one of the crown jewels of this community, and so the implications are simply beyond an individual crime."
Sturn's arrest is one of several Durham police have made on the trail in recent years. The assaults and robberies sparked an angry outcry from citizens for better security, and police responded by beefing up patrols.