With Trayvon Martin a household name, two brothers accused of beating a black teen during a citizen's patrol now want their trial delayed or moved. The Sun's Tricia Bishop reports today on efforts to distance the case in Baltimore with the one in Florida.
Attorneys for Avi and Eliyahu Werdsheim are to be back in court today to further argue their motion before a judge. Their hearing comes a day after neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman is released on bail in Florida in a case that has enraged people on all sides across the country.
Tricia reports today on the similarities:
"Both involve young African-American males walking along on public thoroughfares, who supposedly were accosted by one or more Caucasian members of citizen patrol groups who felt they didn't belong in the area, and allegedly subjected to unprovoked attacks," the motion said. The Werdesheims can't get a fair trial in Baltimore amid all the publicity, defense attorneys said.
One of the suspects in the Baltimore case reportedly said, according to police, "You don't belong around here," as his brother allegedly threw the 15-year-old boy to the ground. The brothers are part of a neighborhood watch group patrolling Orthodox Jewish communities in Northwest Baltimore.
A few weeks ago, The Sun's police reporter, Justin Fenton, wrote a piece about some of the similarities and differences in the Baltimore and Florida cases. Read Justin's story here.
-The Werdesheim brothers were members of a group called Shomrim, Orthodox Jewish volunteers who patrol their Northwest Baltimore neighborhood. The group has meetings and bylaws, as well as radios and matching jackets, and for years was praised by city officials and police for their efforts. In Florida, shooter George Zimmerman, described as white-Hispanic had helped set up a neighborhood watch program with the assistance of the Sanford Police Department and had been appointed the "captain" of the program, according to reports. Both have been accused of being overzealous - Zimmerman had called 911 dozens of times before the shooting incident, while some black Baltimore residents and even police officers said Shomrim members sometimes took their role too far.
-Eliyahu Werdesheim worked for a security company and claimed to be an former Israeli special forces solider; Zimmerman wanted to be a police officer, having attended a four-month course at the local sheriff's department and enrolled in a local college and took law enforcement courses.
-In both cases, the men pursued the victims but are making claims of self-defense.
-In the Shomrim case, the 15-year-old victim said he was walking in the 3300 block of Fallstaff Road at about 12:45 p.m. when a vehicle pulled up and two males began driving next to him. The victim told police that the men followed him for a short distance, before jumping out of the vehicle and surrounding him.
The victim said the passenger grabbed him and threw him to the ground. The driver - who police believe was Eliyahu Werdeshem - struck the teen in the head with his radio and asked if he had "anything on him." Werdesheim is accused of telling the teen "You don't belong here."
A third man then got out of the vehicle, struck the teen in the back with his knee, and held him on the ground as they patted him down. Another member of the Shomrim group came to the teen's aid and was the person who called police, a supplemental report showed.
An attorney for Werdesheim, Andrew Alperstein, has said that the neighborhood watchmen were on alert about recent crimes and believed the teen was a suspect. The boy became angry as he was being watched, picked up a stick and attacked Werdesheim, Alperstein said.
"Mr. Werdesheim defended himself, and won that fight," Alperstein said, calling it "nothing more than a self-defense situation." Police said the boy suffered a broken wrist, but Alperstein, citing medical records, later said the teen had a "boxer's fracture," a knuckle injury often associated with punching an object with a closed fist. Sources also said the teenage victim had a juvenile criminal record including theft charges.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun