The 15-year-old accused of fatally shooting a man armed with a baseball bat during an altercation with a group of squeegee workers near the Inner Harbor over the summer will be tried as an adult, a Baltimore judge ruled Thursday.
After a daylong hearing, Circuit Judge Charles Dorsey denied a request from the teen’s attorneys to have the murder case transferred to juvenile court, where sentences emphasize rehabilitation rather than punishment. The legal proceeding was closed to the media and public, but attorneys who participated spoke to reporters about what happened after court.
The hearing featured a presentation of evidence, the testimony of a licensed clinical social worker who evaluated the teen for the defense and believed he was best suited for juvenile court, and statements from several relatives of Timothy Reynolds, the 48-year-old Hampden resident gunned down July 7 during the encounter at East Conway and Light streets.
Dorsey’s legal analysis required considering five factors: the child’s age, his mental and physical health, the nature of the offense, public safety, and his amenability to treatment offered by the state Department of Juvenile Services, which takes custody of a child convicted in youth court. Maryland’s highest court has said that a child’s willingness to accept help, and the availability of programs tailored to their needs, should be given the greatest weight.
“[Dorsey] just felt like this boy was not amenable to whatever treatment or modalities were available in the juvenile court. He said that was the most important thing to him,” Warren Brown, one of the teen’s lawyers, told reporters after the hearing at the Baltimore City Juvenile Justice Center.
Brown said the state’s juvenile services agency prepared a report ahead of the hearing recommending that the case of teen, who was 14 the day of the shooting, be heard in juvenile court. The expert who the defense hired prepared another report with the same conclusion.
The office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby originally said before the hearing it would support transferring the case to juvenile court. But at the hearing, Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Dunty, the homicide division chief who took over the case a day earlier, did not take a position on the transfer issue and deferred to the judge, Brown told The Baltimore Sun in a phone interview after court.
A proposed plea agreement — under which prosecutors would agree to support transferring the case to juvenile court if the teen pleaded guilty to manslaughter there — fell apart at the last minute, with prosecutors and the teen’s lawyers at odds over facts to submit in support of the plea, the defense lawyers said after the hearing.
Thiru Vignarajah, a former prosecutor and previous candidate for state’s attorney and mayor, is representing the Reynolds family as their victim-rights lawyer. After court, Vignarajah endorsed Dorsey’s ruling and lauded the courage of Reynolds’ relatives for explaining to the judge how his killing upended their lives.
Vignarajah told reporters Dorsey found factors that leaned toward keeping the case in the juvenile system, but the judge was swayed by the “seriousness of the offense” and the “adult character of the crime.”
“The judge laid out very clearly that the evidence in this case was significant and was a factor in his decision,” Vignarajah said.
Dorsey’s ruling comes on the heels of three days of back-and-forth between the teen’s attorneys and Reynolds’ family over what the evidence in the case shows and means.
Prosecutors filed a detailed account of their interpretation of the evidence in advance of the hearing, a filing Vignarajah made public Tuesday.
After Reynolds had an initial interaction with window washers at the intersection and drove across the street and parked, prosecutors wrote, the accused teen retrieved a book bag, later found to have a gun in it, and wore it on his chest. Then, as Reynolds engaged the window washers, metal bat in hand, the teen put a mask over his face and returned to the altercation, a prosecutor wrote.
A motorist’s dashboard camera captured what happened next, fateful moments that spanned less than 20 seconds.
The footage, reviewed by The Sun, shows Reynolds walking away from the teens and in the direction of his car. Three squeegee workers follow Reynolds. He turns toward them. They back up as he charges, the bat raised over his head. He swings the bat in the direction of a worker.
A witness told police he saw Reynolds hit one of the squeegee workers in the back with the bat, according to a taped statement played for The Sun.
The dash camera video showed another worker threw an object at Reynolds, hitting him in the head. He appeared to stumble. That’s when another person shoots Reynolds five times, the footage shows.
Reynolds died at a hospital.
Prosecutors wrote that the gun recovered from the backpack, which was found to have the teen’s DNA on it, was analyzed and determined to have fired the casings found at the scene.After the hearing Thursday, relatives and supporters of the teen left the juvenile courthouse in tears.
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Derede McAlpin, a spokeswoman for the teen’s family, addressed the media on their behalf.
The family disagreed with Dorsey’s opinion, McAlpin said. She said the teen’s relatives were keeping Reynolds’ family in their prayers, while supporting their own loved one.
She said the boy was a good student who aspires to be an engineer, and that he had done well while detained pending trial.
“We will keep fighting in this case,” McAlpin said.
Reynolds’ sister, Rebecca, said relatives told the judge Thursday about Reynolds, describing him as a doting father and successful engineer.
“We are not celebrating,” Reynolds said. “We believe that that was the right thing to do, but there are no winners in this case ... Now it’s just going to be up to the judge and the judicial system and we’re going to let that play out.”
The teen is expected to be arraigned in Circuit Court before a judge sets a schedule for his case.