A Baltimore grand jury on Tuesday indicted the 15-year-old boy accused of fatally shooting a bat-wielding man during an altercation with a group of squeegee workers last month on first-degree murder and related charges, his attorney said.
Defense attorney Warren Brown said he expects ancillary handgun charges were included in the indictment but that he couldn’t say what other charges the grand jury included.
The inclusion of the charge of premeditated murder means the case will be handled in Circuit Court, but the defense will move to have the case remanded to juvenile court, Brown said. If the case remains in Circuit Court, the teen could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
The teen, whom The Baltimore Sun is not naming because of his age, is charged with killing Timothy Reynolds, 48, of Hampden last month. The teen is being held in custody without bail.
The indictment comes a day after protesters gathered in the Inner Harbor to demand Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby drop the murder charge against the teen.
Brown and J. Wyndal Gordon represent him and have said he acted in self-defense. Both men are political supporters of Mosby, even appearing with her at her election night party, and had hoped her office would drop the first-degree murder charge, sending the case to juvenile court. If the case were tried in juvenile court, the boy could not be detained past his 21st birthday.
“Even the video I looked at, I don’t know how they can conclude anything from the video,” Brown told The Sun on Tuesday.
Brown said the teen’s preliminary hearing was postponed from late July to Aug. 11 to give police and prosecutors more time to investigate the case.
“I guess they moved quicker than expected,” he said.
Brown said the defense hasn’t received important evidence like a list of witnesses interviewed by police or the autopsy report, which could be pivotal to a claim of self-defense because it could show where on his body Reynolds was shot. The defense plans to file motions compelling the prosecution to turn over such evidence, he said.
“I’m in the dark right now,” Brown said. “I don’t know what they have beyond what was in the statement of charges, which was kind of broad-brush offerings.”
Police say Reynolds got out of his car on July 7 with a baseball bat near the intersection of Light and Conway streets in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor after an interaction with the squeegee workers there. A motorist’s dashcam captured part of the incident, and although the footage, obtained by The Sun, picks up after the initial confrontation, it shows Reynolds, still holding the bat, walking away from the intersection, presumably toward his car.
The workers begin to follow him, and a car obstructs the view of the next interaction, but the workers are seen running away as Reynolds chases them with the bat raised. He swings at one of them, missing, when another throws a rock, hitting him in the head. A third worker, the shooter, shot at Reynolds five times, killing him.
Under Maryland law, self-defense and defense of others can be claimed only when there is no other option besides lethal force or when a person is in their own home. Legal claims of imperfect self-defense or imperfect defense of others can result in a conviction of voluntary manslaughter, which carries a 10-year sentence.
Just under two dozen protesters, including the teen’s mother and other family, gathered Monday night in McKeldin Plaza to demand Mosby drop the first-degree murder charge. Mosby lost the Democratic primary for state’s attorney to Ivan Bates, who is running unopposed in the general election.
“If I were a teenager and an adult who is almost 40 years old came at me with a baseball bat, I would use whatever I had in hand to defend myself from harm,” said protest organizer Andre Powell of Peoples Power Assembly. “It is a matter of self-defense, and self-defense against a racist attack is not a crime.”
Aijah Gatson, the teen’s mother, said she doesn’t think her son was the shooter and that she is waiting to see any proof he was involved. His aunt and grandmother told reporters he had been washing windshields since he was 12 to help support his younger siblings.
Holding neon green signs reading “DROP THE CHARGES, Address the Root Causes!” and “SUPPORT Squeegee Workers, NOT Repression,” the activists also demanded that the city provide more job opportunities for squeegee workers.
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The Rev. Annie Chambers, a Baltimore activist mainstay, said both Mosby and Bates used the squeegee shooting as a political tool in the run-up to the July 19 primary.
“He has always, always been on the wrong side,” Chambers said of Bates.
Reynolds’ killing and the teen’s arrest reignited a decadeslong debate about how the city should address squeegee workers. City officials estimate there are about 117 people, mostly young, Black men, doing squeegee work at 25 intersections.
Bates said he has a plan to get squeegee workers off corners and into diversion programs by issuing pedestrian citations to squeegee workers, directing them into what he calls “community courts.” The diversion programs are largely focused on employment.
In order for Bates’ plan to work, it would require Democratic Mayor Brandon Scott to rescind an order that prevents Baltimore Police officers from enforcing quality-of-life issues without a supervisor’s permission. Scott has not publicly said whether he will do so.
Last week, city officials held a hearing to discuss providing resources for squeegee workers. Many of the young people squeegeeing at busy intersections do so to provide for children and younger siblings. Some lack stable housing and employment, while others are too young to legally work a job.
“We have to be thoughtful about how we approach and work with our young people,” said Deputy Mayor Faith Leach, who oversees programs aimed at helping squeegee workers. “While jobs are important, that is not a silver bullet that is going to eliminate squeegeeing across the city.”