The attorney for a Silver Spring father yesterday asked Maryland's highest court not to revoke his client's law license, even though he helped his son flee to Israel to avoid murder charges at home.
Sol Sheinbein helped his son Samuel Sheinbein, 17, after the teen-ager told him he and a friend killed 19-year-old Alfredo E. Tello Jr. in September 1997, according to court records.
The father's actions came after Montgomery County police searched the family's home, and after he agreed to tell police if he learned his missing son's whereabouts. But Sol Sheinbein did not tell them.
Over objections by Israeli and Montgomery County prosecutors, Samuel Sheinbein successfully fought extradition, straining U.S.-Israel relations. The youth pleaded guilty in Israel and is serving 24 years in prison there; in Maryland he could have received a life term.
Sol Sheinbein was charged criminally with obstruction of justice and hindering police, two misdemeanors, but not before he moved to Israel where he practices U.S. patent law. He has not been tried on those charges.
In April, in a civil proceeding, a Montgomery County judge agreed with the state's Attorney Grievance Commission that Sheinbein hindered the investigation. But it is up to the Court of Appeals to make the final ruling on his law license and decide a punishment.
"All the father did at max -- if he had a duty -- was prevent his son from being talked to by the police," Melvin Bergman, Sol Sheinbein's attorney, said under intense questioning by the appeals court judges.
But Assistant Bar Counsel John C. Broderick said that is not a reasonable explanation, as Aaron Needle, the other teen suspect, was not with Samuel Sheinbein at the time. Furthermore, Sol Sheinbein did not keep a pledge to tell police of his son's whereabouts.
Needle, 18, hanged himself in his jail cell on the eve of his trial.
Samuel Sheinbein and Needle were accused of killing and dismembering Tello and trying to burn his remains.
Samuel Sheinbein claimed Tello tried to rob Needle. Prosecutors theorized that the teen-agers killed Tello over a combination of circumstances involving a romantic rivalry and an argument between Needle and Tello.