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Crime

Baltimore jury convicts teen of raping, murdering 83-year-old neighbor

A Baltimore jury convicted 17-year-old Tyrone Harvin on Wednesday of raping and murdering 83-year-old neighbor Dorothy Mae Neal when he was 14.

Wearing a blue sweater, blue dress shirt and khakis with his ankles shackled, Harvin stared down as the jury foreperson read the verdict. He did not appear to have any family with him in the courtroom.

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Harvin was one of Baltimore’s youngest-ever homicide suspects and will be sentenced Jan. 3. The convictions carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. He did not testify in his own defense and has 10 days to request a new trial. Harvin’s attorney could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jurors took several hours to deliberate Tuesday, and it appeared a mistrial was possible after jurors sent a note to Circuit Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer Tuesday saying one of them was refusing to participate. But, after about an additional hour of deliberation Wednesday morning, the jury reached its verdict.

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“There really is no winner in this case,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said at a news conference following the verdict Wednesday. “As a mother and granddaughter, this is heartbreaking. … Our seniors and our babies should always be off-limits.”

In 2018, Neal had not been seen outside her Winchester Street apartment for several days, and a neighbor called police for a wellness check. An officer found Neal, barely breathing, behind the locked door of her apartment. She was taken to a hospital, where she died a short while later.

Inside the apartment, police found used condoms, condom wrappers and a lamp that was later determined to be the murder weapon. All the evidence recovered had Harvin’s DNA on it, which Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Stock, who prosecuted the case, said served as proof he must have committed the crime.

Prosecutors never provided a motive for the murder — it’s not required to secure a conviction — but police previously said Harvin had been helping Neal around the house before her death.

Harvin’s team of public defenders disagreed, with attorney Robert Linthicum telling jurors during his closing arguments that police were eager to solve the case because of its magnitude. Linthicum said the evidence presented did not meet the legal standard requiring criminal cases to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The defense tried to cast doubt on the DNA software used to match Harvin to the murder weapon as well as the condoms.

Linthicum also pointed out how the state could not prove exactly when the condom wrappers ended up in Neal’s apartment.

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Stock called those tactics “red herrings” and pointed out how no other fingerprints or DNA were found in the apartment.

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Harvin’s family told The Baltimore Sun in 2018 that he was innocent.

“I know my son wouldn’t do nothing like this,” his mother said then.

Harvin’s family told The Sun at the time that he had recently come off GPS monitoring for an unrelated case, and that he was doing what he was supposed to and was doing well. Harvin had been previously mistakenly charged as an adult with robbing a student at his school, ConneXions Community Leadership Academy in West Baltimore.

Mosby noted Harvin’s age and said that more must be done to reach young Baltimoreans before they become caught up in the criminal justice system.

”I’ve said repeatedly we must do more to reach out to young people early, before they become entangled in the criminal justice system. And today exemplifies how dire that need is,” she said. “Two people have lost their freedom in this case, one at the dawn of their life and one at the sunset of theirs.”

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.


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