A Baltimore Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted two men of trying to kill an elderly East Baltimore man in November with a powerful bomb that had been concealed in a paint can.
Prosecutors said Michael Williams, 17, and Ronald Goldstein, 44, played key roles in a scheme that began with a confrontation in the 2100 block of E. Lombard St. in November and ended a week later with the maiming of Frank Busnuk, now 74.
After a day of deliberations, jurors announced they had found both Williams and Goldstein guilty of second-degree attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment. The two men also were convicted of dynamiting property and related charges.
The dynamiting charge alone carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
But jurors acquitted a third man -- James Wells, Goldstein's nephew -- of explosives charges. Prosecutors charged that he had transported the bomb from Goldstein's Catonsville home.
The blast put Mr. Busnuk in the hospital for eight months, He lost his left arm above the elbow and part of his right hand. He was blinded in one eye and still uses a wheelchair. He was not present in the courtroom yesterday.
"We're all kind of in shock right now," said Kathleen Brewer, Goldstein's niece. "We know he had nothing to do with this."
Prosecutors said the conspiracy was hatched when Mr. Busnuk's son Paul complained about a loud party across the street at the home of James Wells and his brother, Joseph. The next day, prosecutors said, Joseph Wells and several friends went to Catonsville to help Goldstein move. Prosecutors said it was there that Goldstein built the bomb for them, filled with BBs and nails.
In the early hours of Nov. 18, Williams placed the bomb on the roof of Paul Busnuk's car, removed a safety catch and threw rocks at the Busnuks' door. The paint can exploded when Frank Busnuk tried to pick it up.
In closing arguments Monday, defense attorneys insisted that Joseph Wells built and planted the bomb. In exchange for his testimony, Joseph Wells had made a deal with prosecutors to remain in the juvenile system.
Last week, Judge Thomas Ward dismissed charges of attempted murder, assault and reckless endangerment against James Wells. The jury acquitted him of the explosives charges.