Her voice laced with disapproval, a District Court judge faced a young man yesterday who had just admitted to vandalizing the house of a community activist and asked him how he would have felt if someone had done the same thing to his own home.
"You're an adult, and you're expected to behave like one," Judge Nancy B. Shuger told the defendant, Jamar Bailey, 21, who pleaded guilty to malicious destruction of property, trespassing and harassment in the Aug. 7 attack in Baltimore's Waverly neighborhood, where he lives.
Shuger sentenced him to eight months in prison, though he will get credit for the five weeks he has already spent behind bars. "You have nothing to be proud of," the judge said.
The incident was the first of two attacks on the activist's home in the space of two weeks. Bailey was not a suspect in the second attack, in which the house was firebombed, because he was already in jail at the time. That attack remains under investigation.
But police and prosecutors said they viewed both incidents as clear examples of intimidating a witness, in this case a woman who had long made loud and clear her opposition to the drug dealing she saw taking place near her rowhouse on McKewin Street.
The woman, whom The Sun is not naming to protect her safety, wrote in a complaint that Bailey and his unnamed "associates" vandalized her home when they "threw paint all over my doors, my windows, my chairs." They wrote that she was a "rat." The attackers also threw trash and potting soil, she wrote, and tried to set fire to the woman's car. They knocked on the door before fleeing and were spotted by the woman's husband, who recognized Bailey.
"My family are in fear that they might try to harm us more viciously," the woman wrote in the complaint. She recalled also that on a previous occasion Bailey had "shot a firecracker and it barely missed my face."
The day before that, she wrote, Bailey had knocked on her door about 3 a.m. "If I had opened the door," she said, "who knows what would have happened."
Assistant State's Attorney Pamela Kessler said in court that the woman and her family "remain in fear" and that their lives are in "upheaval" as a result of the two attacks.
Bailey, whose previous criminal record involved an assault in 2001 for which he was placed on probation, said almost nothing during the hearing. And that, the judge said, was part of his problem.
"You haven't said you're sorry," Shuger told him. "You should be apologetic, but I don't hear that from you."
In addition to the eight-month sentence, Shuger ordered Bailey, who has a 10th-grade education, to complete his GED and placed him on supervised probation for two years upon his release. She told him also to stay away from the house he had vandalized and from its occupants, and ordered him to complete 100 hours of community service within a year of today's date.
"The victims were satisfied with the result," Kessler said of the woman and her husband, who were in the Wabash District Court building during the hearing, though not in the courtroom itself.
As he left the courtroom in handcuffs, Bailey, thin and goateed, blew a kiss to his mother, who sat with other relatives. A woman who was identified by a defense attorney as Bailey's girlfriend wiped away tears. She later admonished family members not to speak with a reporter.