Victim believes bat attack foreshadowed Md. cannibal case

It wasn't the beating by baseball bat that most frightened Joshua Ceasar, who was left with a fractured skull and a blinded eye. It was the scene that his friends described to him afterward: his alleged attacker Alexander Kinyua standing over his unconscious body, holding a knife.

Even more terrifying: Days after being freed on bail in that incident, Kinyua would be charged with killing a family friend in his parents' house in Joppa, dismembering him and eating his heart and part of his brain.

Now, Ceasar thinks that he narrowly escaped the same fate. His friends intervened in the May 19 attack, shoving Kinyua against a wall and dislodging the weapon in a third-floor hallway of a Morgan State University apartment.

"I believe he was going to do to me what he did to the next victim," the 22-year-old former Morgan student said Tuesday, speaking publicly for the first time.

The chilling account and details about how Kinyua came to be released on bail shed new light on the days leading up to the killing of Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, 37. The killing has raised questions about whether law enforcement and school officials missed warning signs in Kinyua's behavior, which police reports and interviews say escalated from bizarre musings to tantrums to violence.

Ceasar believes that Kinyua, a 21-year-old electrical engineering student, should not have been allowed back on campus after he was accused of punching holes in an office wall, speaking at a student forum about blood sacrifice and being labeled by an ROTC instructor as "a Virginia Tech waiting to happen."

"I felt all these things that were going on could've been prevented," said Ceasar, who transferred out of Morgan a year ago and is now finishing studies at another local university, which he did not want to name. "I mean, he was talking about human sacrifice. That should've set off an alarm."

Ceasar's attorney, Steve Silverman, said he is investigating whether Morgan staff were negligent in failing to identify what he called a "ticking time bomb and extract him from the university community."

University officials, who had remained quiet about the killing and the link to the North Baltimore campus, said for the first time Tuesday that they're conducting a sweeping self-examination in the aftermath of the slaying.

Morgan spokesman Clinton R. Coleman said university president David Wilson is leading a review of "every level of the organization that might have had contact with this young man."

"As with every incident, we're looking at how this was handled and could it have been handled better," Coleman said. "Were there levels of the university that should have been in contact about this and weren't?"

Morgan authorities barred Kinyua, a U.S. citizen from Kenya, after police said he punched holes in a wall at an ROTC office in December. An instructor also kicked him out of the military program, describing Kinyua to a Morgan police officer as an "unusually angry person."

Kinyua was not criminally charged in that incident, but was cited for destruction of campus property and returned to campus after meeting with the school's chief judiciary officer. Five months later, Kinyua was charged with first-degree assault in the attack on Ceasar.

At his District Court bail hearing May 21, he was backed by people with connections and represented by a private attorney. He had his father — a physics professor at Morgan, his uncle who is president of the Baltimore Rotary Club, and a university athletics booster prepared to testify on his behalf.

"Except for this aberration, he is not a danger to the community," attorney Richard Boucher told District Judge Jamey Hueston, according to an audio recording of the proceeding.

Kinyua was being held on $220,000 bond in the case, set by a District Court commissioner. But a representative from pretrial services, which conducts background checks on defendants, suggested his bail be revoked, and Assistant State's Attorney Julie Potter agreed. "There are several witnesses who say this defendant attacked the victim with a bat. This is extremely violent," Potter said.

Unsaid at the hearing was that the bat was wrapped in chains, which is mentioned in the police report, and that the victim and witnesses said the attack was "random."

Boucher countered that based on charging documents, it "doesn't appear a great deal of investigation was done." He claimed Ceasar had threatened Kinyua in the past — which Ceasar and his attorney denied — and had mentioned "he would have a gun the next time they saw one another." He said the incident wasn't random, and that Kinyua was at his residence when it occurred.

"Mr. Kinyua was in fear for his life, and defended himself, based on previous threats that had taken place," Boucher said. He requested that bail be reduced to $100,000.

Hueston said her impulse was to follow the recommendations of prosecutors and pretrial services and revoke Kinyua's bond. "I am impressed by this gentleman's background and support here today," referring to his father; Harold Madison, the rotary club president; and Vincent Robinson, the booster.

"Based upon that, my inclination to give no bail has been restrained, and I'll keep bail the same," the judge ruled.

With the help of Madison, who posted a vacant property on East North Avenue, and a woman named JoAnn Rice, who also posted a vacant property, Kinyua was able to make bond on May 23.

Two days later, Agyei-Kodie went missing from Kinyua's family's home, and five days later police said Kinyua's brother found two hands and a head in tins in the basement. The rest of Agyei-Kodie's body was found in a trash bin at a nearby church.

Baltimore prosecutors have defended the assault charges rather than attempted murder, which might have resulted in a higher bail. Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said the allegations supported the charges, though he noted officials would have been able to revise the charges before filing an indictment.

Boucher, Kinyua's attorney at the bail hearing, said the charges were sufficient. "Let's face it: the first-degree assault charge is extremely serious — it carries a maximum of 25 years in the Division of Correction," he said.

Ceasar said he did not know what happened to his former friend, whom he had met through mutual acquaintances in Morgan's ROTC program. He said that he stuck by Kinyua as a friend even as others shunned him.

"He would say odd things," Ceasar said. "He would have outbursts. He might walk into a room and not say anything and just stand there. Females were just creeped out by him. … People always asked me, "Why are you hanging around him? Are you friends with him?' I said, 'Yes, he never gave me any problems.'"

By in the days leading up to the baseball bat attack, bizarre statements showed up on Kinyua's Facebook page, which mentioned the massacre of 32 students at Virginia Tech, ethnic cleansing and death cults. That coupled with the earlier evaluation referring to "Virginia Tech" should have raised questions, Ceasar and his attorney said.

The night of May 19, Ceasar said he was visiting friends who were about to graduate, including a young woman with who had been a cheerleader for his high school football team in New Jersey.

He climbed to the third floor and knocked on the door of Apt. 304, where eight students, all in the ROTC program, lived in three suites. Ceasar said the occupants included Kinyua, who continued to reside there even after he was expelled from ROTC.

"I walked in the door, I got hit with the bat," Ceasar said. "I didn't see it coming. I fell to the ground. I was unconscious for five or 10 minutes." He said he awoke to stories from his two friends who rushed to his aid and told him about the knife.

A police report filed on the attack, says that a police officer arrived to see Ceasar "stumbling towards me with an open wound on his forehead and blood coming from it."

Ceasar, who is graduating this year and plans on attending medical school, said he suffered a fractured skull, broken shoulder and is blinded in his left eye. He said doctors have not told him whether he could regain his sight.

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about the victim, Agyei-Kodie, who is from Ghana and was in the U.S. on a student visa. Authorities in Harford County said he has one relative in America, an uncle. Temple University in Philadelphia says he graduated in 2002 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and in 2004 with a master's degree in the same subject.

He then went to Morgan, also in the engineering graduate program, but got into trouble in 2008 when he was convicted of stalking and a fourth-degree sex offense after police said he pursued a fellow student. He was ordered deported, which was pending paperwork from the Ghanaian Embassy.

But relatives in his native Ghana told the Associated Press that Agyei-Kodie was preparing to come home and get a job, and dreamed of becoming his country's president. In addition to his schooling in Philadelphia and Baltimore, he has a degree in chemical engineering from a university in Ghana.

"Daddy is in a state of shock, does not want to believe his son is dead," Gloria Boahema Asante, the youngest of four siblings, said in an interview with the wire service in Accra, Ghana. "We look at the picture that went with the story and see the smiles on his face and do not want to believe that he is dead."

Grieving relatives last spoke to Agyei-Kodie — he son of a retired banker who attended St. Augustine's College at Cape Coast — when he called for Mother's Day, said his younger sister, Irene Konadu Asante, who was dressed in mourning clothes of red and black.

"We took turns to talk to him and he expressed his desire to return home within months. He even asked my husband to start looking for jobs for him," Asante said through tears. "My brother's dream is to become the president of Ghana and that is why he had spent so much time educating himself in the U.S."

Baltimore Sun reporter Childs Walker contributed to this article.

An earlier version of this article gave the wrong first name for Joshua Ceasar. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.