The Baltimore trial of brothers Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim, who are charged with assault and false imprisonment — accused of beating a black teenager last year while members of a Jewish patrol group — has been postponed for a fifth time.
The racially charged case, which has strained relations between some black and Jewish city residents, was set for trial Monday. But defense attorneys asked for an advance postponement last week, according to Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the Baltimore state's attorney's office.
The new trial date is set for Feb. 1.
"Each of the postponements has come at the request of the defense," Cheshire said. Prosecutors "have been prepared for each trial date."
Andrew I. Alperstein, who represents Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, said the latest postponement was granted because 21-year-old Avi Werdesheim's attorney, Susan R. Green, wasn't available. At least one previous delay was requested for the same reason, he said, and others were granted to allow the defense more time for investigation.
Green could not be reached Monday, and the court file was in transit and inaccessible, according to a Circuit Court clerk. A video recording of the postponement hearing, which was held last week, was not immediately available for viewing.
According to court records, the brothers, who have pleaded not guilty in the case, assaulted a 15-year-old high school student, who was armed with a stick, in Northwest Baltimore a year ago, on Nov. 19, 2010.
Police charging documents claim that Eliyahu Werdesheim told the boy, "you don't belong around here," and struck him in the head with a radio after another man — later identified as Avi Werdesheim — threw the boy to the ground. One of the teen's wrists was broken in the incident, according to police.
The brothers were members of Shomrim, an Orthodox Jewish citizens group that patrols parts of Northwest Baltimore. At a hearing in January, Alperstein said his client no longer participates in Shomrim.