Baltimore County

Essex man pleads guilty to civil rights charges

An Essex man pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges for hanging a dead raccoon on the porch of a black family in Middle River two years ago, according to a plea agreement released by the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday.

Joshua Wall, 20, hanged the raccoon by a noose on the family's porch in April 2010 after a fight between a child who lived with Wall and the son of the victims' family, according to the agreement. Wall conspired with four unnamed people, but he was the only one charged in the incident.

Wall pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deprive a person of civil rights and faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for August in U.S. District Court.

"The victim family was in fact terrified by the raccoon hanging," according to the agreement. "The parents ... explored the idea of sending their children to boarding school and of moving away."

The plea agreement, signed in January, was released by U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.

The incident occurred in the 1500 block of Becklow Ave., police said earlier this year. The victims had emigrated from Africa in the past three or four years