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Last Updated: Saturday, 16 July, 2005, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
US police pursue girl over stone
Maribel Cuevas (pic: ABC News)
Maribel Cuevas speaks almost no English (pic: ABC News)
An 11-year-old girl who threw a stone at a group of boys pelting her with water balloons is being prosecuted on serious assault charges in California.

Maribel Cuevas was arrested in April in a police operation which involved three police cars and a helicopter.

She has since spent five days in detention, in which she was granted one 30 minute visit by her parents, and has spent a month under house arrest.

Her lawyer accuses the authorities of criminalising childhood behaviour.

"They're treating her like a violent parole offender," Richard Beshwate said. "It's not a felony, it's an 11-year-old acting like an 11-year-old."

The girl is due back in court at the beginning of next month.

Police say they had to investigate as the boy who was hit by the stone she threw suffered a deep gash to his head and needed hospital treatment.

He has reportedly acknowledged to officers that he started the fight in late April.


The confrontation happened in a poor district of Fresno, in central California, where Maribel Cuevas lives with her Spanish-speaking family.

The girl, who speaks little English, has admitted throwing a stone at a group of boys she says were pestering her with water balloons as she walked down the street.

An ambulance was called, but arrived flanked by three police patrol vehicles. A helicopter meanwhile hovered overhead.

The 11-year-old was then read her rights twice in English before being detained.

"We responded. We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary," said Fresno Police Sergeant Anthony Martinez.

Another police officer told ABC News that the girl, when asked what she thought would happen if she threw the stone, replied that it would make him "bleed".

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