Defense requests for an early end to the trial of two brothers accused of assaulting a teen in Northwest Baltimore were denied by a Baltimore circuit judge Tuesday afternoon.
After the state rested its case around 3 p.m., Baltimore Circuit Judge Pamela White determined that Assistant State's Attorney Kevin Wiggins had presented adequate evidence to support the charges against defendants Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim.
"I am satisfied that there has been [evidence] sufficient to support verdicts on all three counts as to both defendants," said White. She said she was taking testimony at face value and not ruling on the credibility of each witness.
The Werdesheims' attorneys will begin presenting the brothers' defense Wednesday morning. They have claimed that the brothers were acting in self-defense, that the teen was armed with a nail-studded board and attacked first. The brothers are each charged with second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon — a walkie-talkie — with the intent to injure.
The men are charged with assaulting Corey Ausby, 16, in Park Heights in November 2010. According to police records, Eliyahu, 24, was a member of Shomrim, an Orthodox Jewish citizens' watch group, on Nov. 19, 2010, when he and his brother allegedly confronted Ausby.
Ausby was told that he didn't belong in the neighborhood, thrown to the ground and hit with a hand-held radio that Shomrim issued to Eliyahu, according to the state.
Though Ausby is black and the Werdesheims are white, none of the attorneys in the case argued during their opening statements last week that the alleged crime was racially motivated.
Attorney Susan Green, who is representing the younger defendant, 22-year-old Avi, would not say at the end of Tuesday's proceedings whether the defense would call witnesses. The defense already called one witness last week, between prosecution witnesses.
Wiggins' final two witnesses were Shomrim's president, Danny Harris, and Detective Alexi A. Correa, a 12-year-veteran of the Baltimore Police Department and the lead investigator.
Harris testified that Eliyahu Werdesheim said over the radio during the incident that he felt "pinned" by Ausby, though it wasn't clear from Harris' statements whether Eliyahu was still inside that patrol car at that time. Harris said he thought Eliyahu was acting in self defense.
Correa testified that Ausby did not pick Avi Werdesheim out of a photo spread. He also said he chose not to have a confiscated radio tested for DNA evidence, to determine if it was used in an attack on Ausby.
White told attorneys and witnesses that she expects the bench trial to conclude this week.
The trial was delayed briefly Tuesday morning when Baltimore Sun reporter Tricia Bishop passed out in the courtroom.
Avi Werdesheim, who last year worked for a private medic unit, checked her vital signs before emergency workers responded. She was treated and released from a hospital.