Three months after Prince Greene was released from juvenile detention for a deadly stabbing in Waverly, the Baltimore teenager has been charged as an adult with another violent crime.
Greene was 15 when he was accused of stabbing Robert Ponsi to death in January 2016. The 29-year-old waiter had been attacked while bicycling home from work.
Greene was initially charged as an adult in Ponsi’s death, but his case was moved to juvenile court.
Ponsi’s mother, Dawn Ponsi, said she’s outraged by a juvenile justice system that returned the teen to the streets so soon.
The boy’s mother, Thomascine Greene, said she wants to see her son receive a fair trial. His arrest last week has drawn widespread attention. She worries that he will be judged before the facts of the case come out.
“People are trying him in the street,” Greene said. “They don’t even know the situation.”
Police say about six teenage boys beat a man last Wednesday afternoon at the Mondawmin Metro station in West Baltimore. The boys fled onto a Metro train. Officers tracked them on surveillance cameras and arrested them at the station on Cold Spring Lane.
Police say one of the boys, Prince Greene, ditched a black backpack on the train. Officers found a loaded handgun inside the backpack.
They charged the teenager with second-degree assault and illegal possession of a gun. He remains held without bail and is scheduled for a hearing May 10 in Baltimore District Court. His attorney did not reply to messages seeking comment.
Ponsi said she warned the court that the teenager would commit another crime.
“I saw a pattern and I didn’t believe it would be broken,” she said. “My frustration is with the inability of the juvenile justice system, in its current form, to appropriately address the issues with the most serious and violent of the juvenile offenders.”
Greene’s arrest has renewed scrutiny of Baltimore’s juvenile justice system. Currently, juveniles are charged as adults in the most serious crimes, such as murder, rape, robbery and armed carjacking. These cases can be remanded to juvenile court only with approval from a judge. Greene was initially charged as an adult in Ponsi’s death, but the case was waived to juvenile court.
For years, public defenders have lobbied to change state laws so all young offenders would begin in juvenile court. Then a juvenile could be sent up and tried as an adult in serious cases. Juvenile court aims to rehabilitate while the adult system aims to punish.
Melanie Shapiro, director of juvenile justice for the Office of the Public Defender, said the youngest criminals should stay in juvenile court. They don’t mature until about 25 years old, she said.
“Youth are particularly vulnerable to outside pressure, including peer pressure. Because their brain is not fully developed, they’re more impulsive,” she said. “They can be rehabilitated. They have the greatest capacity to change.”
She declined to comment on Greene’s case.
In 2016, Prince Greene and two other teenagers were charged with attacking Robert Ponsi as he bicycled through Waverly.
A waiter at a restaurant in Harbor East, Ponsi got off his bike and to fend off his attackers. They knocked him down, kicked and punched him. Ponsi was stabbed 17 times.
His killing shocked neighbors in Waverly, and more than 100 people gathered for a candlelight vigil where he was attacked at Venable Avenue and Old York Road.
Two other teens were charged as adults in his killing. Baltimore Circuit Judge Stephen Sfekas found Antwan Eldridge, 19, and Daquan Middleton, 19, both guilty of robbery and assault. Eldridge was sentenced to five years in prison. Middleton was sentenced to 13 years.
At their trial, Sfekas said Greene alone was responsible for Ponsi's killing.
Greene was charged as a juvenile. Such proceedings are shielded from the public.
His mother said he was released from juvenile detention in January.
A neighborhood activist, Thomascine Greene has worked to open youth centers and helped quell the riots after the death of Freddie Gray in April 2015. She said she grieves for parents across the city who have seen their children caught up in Baltimore’s escalating street violence.
“I feel for Ms. Ponsi,” she said. “I feel for Baltimore.”