Updated: 12/20/10 5:10 p.m.

CHICAGO (STMW) – Two schoolboys who threw bricks at an elderly South Shore homeowner have pleaded guilty to aggravated assault of a senior citizen and criminal damage.

But the 12- and 13-year-old boys will be sentenced to probation and won’t be locked up in the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, Judge Andrew Berman said Monday morning.

The case hit the headlines in September when the boys’ 68-year-old victim, Margaret Matthews, shot the 12-year-old boy in the shoulder as he lobbed bricks at her from the roof of a shed at her home in the 7600 block of South Cole.

Matthews and several neighbors were ready to testify at trial Monday morning that both boys had terrorized the neighborhood for months, before Matthews finally snapped and opened fire as they smashed her windows. But both boys agreed to a last-minute plea deal.

Prosecutors agreed to drop felony aggravated battery charges against the boys in return for their guilty pleas to misdemeanor aggravated assault and criminal damage.

The boys will be sentenced to “some form of probation,” on Jan. 26, Berman said. The terms will depend upon probation reports which have yet to be completed, the judge said.

Speaking outside court, Matthews said, “I don’t feel like justice has totally been carried out.”

Probation and restraining orders preventing the boys from contacting her or any of the witnesses were “not such a big deal,” she said, adding that she thought the boys needed “some stronger order in their lives.”

Neither the boys nor their families have apologized to her, she said.

“They’re in denial,” she added.

Wearing jeans and jackets, and both standing under 5 feet tall before the judge, both boys spoke in voices little louder than a whisper to confirm that they understood their rights and wanted to plead guilty.

The 12-year-old and his family declined to comment as they left court, but the 13-year-old’s mother said “he never did anything,” before leaving without further comment.

The 12-year-old’s mother said in October that her son had been “traumatized” by being shot.

But Matthews neighbors said Monday that they thought both boys should have faced stiffer penalties and that they needed stronger parenting.

“This is just a slap on the wrist,” neighbor Tina McCoy said. “The parents are in denial — as long as they feel like their child did nothing wrong, they’ll be free to carry on.”

Even the bullet wound that the 12-year-old suffered won’t change him, another neighbor, Randolph Strahan Sr., said. “They need to pay back the community for what they did,” he added.

Matthews said she would “be keeping my eye out” for both boys and wouldn’t hesitate to call police on them again, though she hoped “they do something better and constructive with their lives.”

She said the shooting of the 12-year-old “wasn’t planned, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing.”

The boys will be sentenced Jan. 26, according to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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