Star athlete to be tried as an adult on assault charge

A two-time state high school wrestling champion who is facing first-degree assault charges will be tried as an adult, a Baltimore judge ruled in a hearing Wednesday.

Police charged James Patrick Downey III of Linthicum Heights in the assault on Connor M. Little in a parking lot near M&T Bank Stadium in November 2009. Little lost several teeth and suffered two black eyes while tailgating at the annual "Turkey Bowl" football game between Calvert Hall and Loyola high schools.

Downey was 17 years old at the time of the incident; he is now 18.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams concluded that because of Downey's physical and mental maturity, and separate assault and robbery charges after the Turkey Bowl incident, the teen should not be tried as a juvenile.

"He is facing additional robbery, theft, second-degree assault charges," said prosecutor Keri Smolka. "What services could juvenile services provide to this individual?"

Downey was undefeated for two years as a sophomore at Loch Raven High School in Baltimore County, and his junior year at North County High School in Anne Arundel County. As a junior, he was named an academic all-state wrestler, with the highest grade-point average among those who qualified in his weight class in the state championships.

He also was a quarterback on the North County football team for part of this season, and was being recruited by several colleges for both sports.

He and former North County wrestling teammate Louis Patrick Carey were charged with assaulting two Navy football players at a Baltimore nightclub in June 2010. In September, Downey and two other teens, Danny McGee of Linthicum and Jonathan Hart of Glen Burnie, were charged with assaulting and robbing a 16-year-old after he had tried to sell Downey "a dime bag of marijuana," according to charging documents.

Smolka said Downey is smart enough to understand the consequences of his actions, adding that "these are very serious assaults" and that Downey had the ability to remove himself from those situations.

North County officials had been made aware of the two arrests, but Downey continued to play football at the Glen Burnie school. He is now being home-schooled and is ineligible to participate in extracurricular activities.

Downey's attorney, Glen D. Lazzaro, argued that if the teen were tried as an adult, the handful of college recruiters and his "extraordinarily bright future" would be gone. "He's still a young man," Lazzaro said.

He said that Downey had been provoked at the stadium, as well as in the incident at the Bourbon Street Ballroom nightclub on Guilford Avenue.

"There's two sides to every story," Lazzaro said.

Downey's trial on the November 2009 assault charge is scheduled for Dec. 6.

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