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Semaj Booker Won’t Be Booked Into Detention

SEATAC – Remember Semaj Booker, the 10-year old Tacoma boy who’s managed to sneak through security at SeaTac Airport twice?

Well, a judge ruled Monday that young Semaj won’t be booked into detention.

Booker is most famous (or infamous…) for stealing a car last year, leading cops on a high-speed chase, then talking his way onto not one, but two Southwest Airlines flights to Texas.

He attempted to pull off a similar stunt last month, but didn’t make it past the boarding gate before getting caught.

On Monday he faced a judge as his mother went on the defensive.

“He knows what he did was wrong. He knows he shouldn’t do that,” said mother Sakinah Booker in court.

But Semaj didn’t hear anything his mother had to say. The judge ordered the boy to leave the courtroom before testimony began.

“I wanted the adults to express themselves freely, and some of that is information that Mr. Booker himself shouldn’t be hearing,” said Judge John McCarthy.

Semaj was already on probation at the time of the hearing for the January 2007 incident. But following his latest attempt, prosecutors say probation may not be working.

“I wonder what was not successful about the prior counseling, and what has changed so that it will be different this time,” said Fred Wist, deputy prosecutor of Pierce County.

Semaj told his family therapist he tried to board another flight last month because he wanted to visit a step-brother in Minnesota.

“That it’s certainly the type of behavior and conduct that we need to change, so we don’t see him any further,” said the judge.

A judge could have put a felony on the boy’s record but instead chose to extend his probation for another year.

“If we see this same conduct again, we’d be back before the court again,” said Wist.

The boy’s mother promised the judge her son’s flying days are over.

“Instead of him (being) a10-year-old kid who got on a plane and did that I want him to be a 10-year-old kid able to have a life, and play football do things for himself,” she said.

Semaj and his family continue to see therapists. He has yet to pay back the more than $3,000 for damages to the car he stole last January.

His mother said the boy will go to work, cutting lawns and doing yard work, in order to help pay the money.


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