The Police Department should increase their oversight of groups like Shomrim, and background and mental health checks should be conducted for anyone who wants to take part in community watch patrols, said the Rev. C.D. Witherspoon, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
In front of the courthouse after the verdicts were read, Witherspoon asked State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein — who has been accused since the attack on Ausby of favoring the interests of Jews over the well being of blacks — if any other members of Shomrim would be charged. White named one other Shomrim member in her verdict as having helped detain Ausby after Eliyahu struck the teen. Bernstein did not respond.
Joe Bondar, a resident of the Cheswolde neighborhood for the last 30 years and a friend of the Werdesheim family, said crime occurs in the community every night, and complaints that Shomrim and other community watch units are the problem — or aren't trained for the work they do — are misplaced.
"How about training the hoodlums who terrify the community night after night, break into houses, break into cars?" he said. "The police do absolutely nothing, and to put the blame on someone who's trying to do something about it? It's ridiculous."
Bondar continued: "It doesn't matter if it's a white person or a black person. It's not a racial issue. It's a safety issue."
Shomrim did not respond to interview requests. Arthur C. Abramson, executive director of the Baltimore Jewish Council, said he was glad the trial was over but declined to comment on the verdicts.
White's decision brings to a close a trial that was delayed for nearly a year.
On the last day of November 2010, Eliyahu was arrested at the home of his now-wife and charged in the assault. A felony charge against him was dropped in late January 2011, around the same time Avi was charged.
The brothers pleaded not guilty in February 2011 and their trial was initially planned for the following May, though it was postponed six times by the defense because of illness, to accommodate the brothers' attorneys' schedules and allow more time for them to conduct their investigation.
Last week, the Werdesheims' attorneys requested another delay — or transfer of the case to a court outside the city — because of the similarities to the killing of Trayvon Martin, a Florida teenager who was shot by a neighborhood watch captain.
Green and Alperstein ended up agreeing to a bench trial, giving up the brothers' right to have their cases heard by a jury.
Ausby's family could not be reached for comment by phone Thursday. A man who answered the phone at Ausby's grandfather's home and identified himself as Ausby's great-grandfather, Francis Maddox, said he could not comment.
Ausby's mother had filed a $6.5 million civil suit on her son's behalf against the two Werdesheim brothers, Shomrim and a security agency that Eliyahu started. But attorney J. Wyndal Gordon, who said he supported White's conclusions in the case, withdrew the civil suit Wednesday.
"The family decided the young man is not durable enough" to undergo the pressures of another court case, Gordon said.
Ausby was brought to court last week to testify, but tearfully told Judge White he wanted the charges against the Werdesheim brothers dropped. He refused to respond to many questions and was not cross-examined by the defense attorneys, so White struck everything he said in court from the evidentiary record.
"There's no amount of money that can restore someone's peace of mind," Gordon said.
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this article.
Elder Werdesheim brother convicted in assault of teen
Second brother cleared of charges
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