Youth freed pending trial in bat attack


A county judge has released a 16-year-old Brooklyn Park boy into the custody of his mother, pending his trial for attempted murder in the April 13 attack of another youth in a dispute over roller skates.

Mark Stephen McKenzie Jr., of the 400 block of Audrey Ave., was charged as an adult with first-degree attempted murder in the attack on 18-year-old Donnie Jay Thomas. A dispute over a pair of $40 roller skates escalated into a fight in which McKenzie allegedly hit Thomas several times in the head with a baseball bat, fracturing his skull.

Although McKenzie, who was 15 at the time of the attack, was initially held in jail without bail, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. released the youth on personal recognizance after a bond hearing in Circuit Court yesterday.

Until his trial on Sept. 15, McKenzie must be under constant supervision by his mother or an uncle, who live in Allegany County. The judge's decision places McKenzie under virtual "house arrest," said his attorney, Paul Hazelhurst.

Before the bond hearing yesterday in Annapolis, McKenzie had been held at the County Detention Center.

At the time of the attack, McKenzie lived with his father, Mark Stephen McKenzie Sr., in Brooklyn Park. At the time of the incident, the elder McKenzie said Thomas, of the 4200 block of Audrey Ave., had purchased two pairs of roller blade skates so the teens could play hockey together.

Mark McKenzie Sr. said the fight may have been prompted by disagreement over whether the skates were a gift or whether his son had to pay for them.

Police said Thomas had gone to McKenzie's home April 13 to retrieve the skates. Someone let Thomas into the McKenzie home, and when he bent down to pick up the skates up, Mark McKenzie Jr. hit him on the head with the bat, police said.

McKenzie's attorney said that because of McKenzie's age and clean criminal record, he would attempt to have his client's case moved to juvenile court.

Prosecutors said in cases such as this that carry a possible life sentence, defendants over the age of 14 are automatically charged as adults.

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