Saying it was a "horrendous, horrible crime," a Baltimore Circuit Court judge yesterday rejected pleas for leniency and imposed stiff sentences on three teen-agers who beat a man during an unprovoked attack in Patterson Park on May 17.
Expedito "Pedro" Lugo, a 24-year-old immigrant from the Dominican Republic, suffered crippling brain damage after he was clubbed with a baseball bat while he lay on the ground.
Judge Elsbeth Bothe imposed a 25-year prison term on Keith Robinson, 16, the youth who wielded the bat. Two other defendants, Andre Flythe, 19, and James Holley, 16, received 10-year sentences for their less-violent roles in the attack.
The defendants told the judge they were trying to impress each other and the attack was an act of youthful ignorance.
Robinson told Judge Bothe: "I'm sorry for what happened to the family. I made a mistake. I was trying to impress."
Holley offered a similar explanation. "We were just out there trying to impress. There wasn't no meaning for it, and I'm sorry," he said.
But the judge said the crime could not be excused by ignorance.
"It was a horrendous, horrible crime, utterly senseless, committed with the friendly weapon of a baseball bat," she said. "I don't know who you were trying to impress . . . by beating a decent, athletic citizen into a piece of pulp."
The judge's harshest words went to Robinson, whom she called "the principal actor in a terrible episode."
Robinson's attorney, Randolph Gregory, argued that Robinson should receive no more than nine years in prison for the attack, based on sentences given to similar offenders.
He also said Robinson had no criminal record and pointed to his client's apparent promise, saying that he had a 90 average in mathematics in school. In a presentence investigation, Robinson's principal described him as "a youth with great potential."
"We do not have a callous career criminal here. He only committed a single impulsive act," Mr. Gregory said. "Let's not take the retribution overboard . . . he's never even jaywalked nor spit on the street."
Mr. Lugo wept along with family members during the hearing. He sat in a wheelchair wearing a gray suit and white high-top sneakers.
When the attack occurred, Mr. Lugo, who was then an East Baltimore resident, was walking into Patterson Park with his new baseball bat when he was approached by the three teen-agers.
According to prosecutors Jack I. Lesser and Donald Huskey, Mr. Lugo was punched by Flythe, picked up and thrown to the ground by Holley, and clubbed at least once with his own baseball bat by Robinson.
Mr. Lugo nearly died and spent four weeks in a coma at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He is now partially paralyzed and his ability to speak and comprehend is impaired.
"He was simply walking down the street looking for a baseball game to play in . . . he was totally innocent, it could have been any of us," Mr. Lesser said.
Bernarda Lugo, Mr. Lugo's sister, 18, told the judge her brother "got changed a lot" by the attack. "He used to like all sports, baseball, basketball and tennis, and now if you ask him what he ate for breakfast, he won't be able to remember."
The three defendants pleaded guilty to the crime April 8. Robinson pleaded to attempted first-degree murder while Holley and Flythe pleaded to attempted second-degree murder.
Holley and Flythe will be eligible for their first parole hearing in two-and-a-half years while Robinson would be eligible for his first hearing in about six-and-a-half years.