Closing arguments made in trial of Baltimore man accused of gunning down 13-year-old boy

Ronnie Barnes figures his son froze at the burst of gunfire, maybe tried to run when the bullets hit him, one in his back, one in his head.

Two gunshots killed his son last year, and the grieving father faced it all again Monday in a Baltimore courtroom. He watched, dabbing tissues to his eyes, as prosecutors displayed the photos of two small bullet holes in his son’s body.

One juror looked away; DiAndre Barnes was 13.

“He was murdered and his life was snuffed out, and it’s senseless,” prosecutor Kurt Bjorklund said, his voice rising, “and you’re all looking at the one person who’s responsible for it.”

Bjorklund pointed across the courtroom to a 27-year-old man charged in Baltimore Circuit Court with murdering the boy.

“Find him guilty,” the prosecutor demanded.

Attorneys made their final arguments Monday in the murder trial of Anthony Jerome Clark Jr., a man from Southwest Baltimore nicknamed “Trouble.”

Clark mistakenly shot the boy when he opened fire on a crowd early one morning in June 2016, prosecutors said. A 22-year-old man, the intended target, was shot and wounded.

The killing came during a crime spree that began two weeks earlier, prosecutors said. They say Clark robbed a man at gunpoint outside a gas station, then fled to a house in Reservoir Hill. Police surrounded the home.

Clark slit his writs with a box cutter, telling officers they would “have to kill him,” before he was Tasered and arrested on May 26, 2016, police said.

The next day, he was held in a secure psychological unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center, as police prepared two arrest warrants: one for the gas station robbery and one for breaking into the Reservoir Hill home.

Somehow, Clark left the hospital and avoided arrest.

Two weeks later, DiAndre Barnes was killed and the man was wounded on the 900 block of Pennsylvania Ave. Witnesses named “Trouble” as the shooter, police said.

Officers spotted Clark and chased him the next night. He allegedly turned and opened fire at the officers while running away. Then he tossed the handgun and climbed a fire escape on Fremont Avenue, police say, surrendering on the roof of a rowhouse.

During trial, investigators said they found Clark’s DNA on the pistol used to kill DiAndre Barnes.

But they also found other DNA on the gun, found stashed in a backpack with clothes.

“DNA can be transferred by any number of means,” defense attorney Michael Cooper told jurors. “The state has certainly shown that a crime was committed, but they didn’t show who did it.”

Cooper said the evidence falls short of proving Clark guilty.

“It’s a tragedy, but it’s one without answers,” he said.

The eighth-grade boy was gunned down June 11, 2016, becoming one of the 318 people killed in Baltimore last year. In a city beset by gun violence, his killing stood out — showing that even an innocent 13-year-old boy could be caught in the path of bullets.

“He wasn’t trying to kill DiAndre,” Bjorklund told jurors. “That doesn’t matter … You don’t get a break for being a bad shot.”

The boy had attended Booker T. Washington Middle School for the Arts and made pocket cash as one of Baltimore’s squeegee boys — those who pumped gas and washed windshields for spare change, his father said.

A strong-armed pitcher, the boy played for winning youth baseball teams. His favorite player was the Orioles’ Chris Davis. DiAndre had promised his father he would make the major leagues, too.

Now, more than a year after his son’s death, Ronnie Barnes has given away DiAndre’s old baseball hats to family members, even his son’s glove.

But the father says he will keep all the trophies, as they’re reminders of a promise his son made but never had the chance to see through.

tprudente@baltsun.com

twitter.com/Tim_Prudente

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