MANNHEIM, Germany — Three Heidelberg-area teenagers pleaded guilty in German court Monday to assault and robbery charges in connection with the May beating of a taxi driver.

The teens, children of U.S. soldiers, appeared in a Mannheim youth court and were each sentenced to two years of probation.

“I just want to say I’m sorry, and I don’t want you to get a bad idea about Americans. They are not all criminals,” Jose Ramirez, 18, told the taxi driver in court.

Ramirez, Christopher Gamble, 18, and Marcus Griffin, 19, were brought into court in handcuffs Monday.

The teens were charged May 23, but have been in a local jail for four months for failure to follow a judge’s order. After their arrests, the teens’ passports were seized but they were allowed to await their court date at home if they regularly checked in with police. That didn’t happen. As a result, the three were jailed in June.

The assault on the cab driver occurred May 10 at about 10:40 p.m. All three participated in the robbery, holding, hitting or taking money from the driver they hired to take them from Heidelberg’s Universityplatz to Plankstadt, authorities said.

Griffin told the judge that they fled with 125 euros.

Judge Klaus-Jürgen Seiser wanted to know why the teens didn’t simply flee if they didn’t have the funds to pay the fare.

“You did it in order to get more money?” Seiser asked.

“Yeah,” Griffin said.

As part of their probation, Seiser ordered each of the teens to pay 250 euros in restitution to the driver. Griffin and Ramirez must undergo routine drug testing while Gamble must attend anger management courses.

Petra Gamble, the mother of Christopher, said her son has learned from his time in jail. Now, Gamble hopes that her son can continue to live with the family at Patrick Henry Village, a military housing complex in Heidelberg.

“My biggest worry right now is, what is the military going to do?” she said.

A garrison-level hearing will eventually be held to determine if Christopher Gamble can return to post, his mother said. Otherwise, Petra Gamble said, she would have to consider moving to the States.

Ramirez, whose family has returned to the States, said he wasn’t sure where he would be staying after his release from jail. He also wasn’t sure when he’d be heading back to the States.

However, Ramirez said he intends to get his high-school diploma and enlist in the Army.

“I do have plans right now. I hope I can accomplish them,” he said.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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