Lauren Spates, a 27-year-old former cheerleader for the Ravens, says she knows who attacked her and her husband early Saturday at South Baltimore's Clement and Covington streets. She looked long and hard, she said, knowing her identification "would be the only thing that would get them."
In an interview on Tuesday, Spates said, "Believe me, I’ll never forget that man’s face when he asked me to take my rings off my finger."
The attack early Saturday in which Spates and her new husband were robbed at gunpoint -- she of her engagement ring and wedding band, worth a combined $22,000 -- has stunned the residential neighborhood north of Fort Avenue.
Spates detailed the attack, saying she complied slowly but deliberately, hoping somebody would interrupt the gunman. “I thought, somebody has got to get a pizza delivered,” she said. "Somebody will have to take their dog out. Somebody has got to walk by. But no one did."
Police charged Julien Rosaly, 22, and Nicholes Maultsby, 20, who share the same rowhouse in the 1100 block of Leadenhall Street, near M&T Bank Stadium, with armed robbery, assault and several illegal gun counts. Both are being held without bail.
Relatives, however, say Spates picked the wrong suspects. Rosaly’s mother, Gloria Alvarez, 41, said that the two men were not together this weekend. She said Maultsby was at a girl’s house in Sharp-Leadenhall until 2 a.m. and that her son was at Maria D’s on Light Street. She said surveillance video shows him there from 12:47 a.m. to 1:42 a.m.
“I think it’s a little bit of mistaken identify,” said Alvarez, who lives in Essex, noting the victims described her son as a black male, when he is Hispanic. “I don’t know why these people picked him.”
Police said they have not found the small black revolver or any of the items taken from the couple; Rosaly’s aunt said detectives searched her rowhouse on Leadenhall Street, where both suspects live, and found nothing.
The manager of Maria D’s, Billy Diakokominos, said he watched the video Monday might at the request of relatives and recognized Rosaly, who he knows as “Rico,” sitting at a window table during the time of the attack about 15 blocks away.
Diakokominos whose father owns the restaurant, said Rosaly — who he also knows by his tattoo of lips on the left side of his neck — is a regular customer who comes in nearly every day. “We reviewed the tape and have him sitting there with a couple of kids,” the manager said.
Diakokominos said police never stopped by to ask about the tapes. Alvarez said her son told the arresting officer that he had been at the restaurant. “I know arresting officers go check out their alibis and they didn’t even do that,” Alvarez said.
Lauren Spates said that she and her husband, Daniel Wieser, were returning from Ryleighs Oyster House on Cross Street in Federal Hill, after having watched two college basketball playoff games and dining on a grilled Caesar salad and blackened chicken.
They left about 1 a.m. and headed home. Spates said she paused when they reached Covington and Clement streets, which can be quiet even though it’s one block off the more heavily traveled Fort Avenue, which is lined with bars open to 2 a.m.
“We saw these two guys on little BMX bikes,” Spates said. “They were riding, but not with a purpose. They were trolling the streets. I got to feel uncomfortable.” She said she picked up the pace, still talking to her husband, but then turned to find “he wasn’t there.”
Spates said she heard a muffled voice telling Wieser to get on the ground. She said she saw a man holding the black revolver in the palm of his hand, and saw him press the weapon to the back of her husband’s head. The second man came up to her, she said, forced her to the ground and said, “I want your jewelry, [expletive]bitch,” according to the police report.
The victim said the man tried to pull her rings off her fingers but failed, and made her do it. The attackers rode off on their bicycles, police said, with the rings, a wallet, two cell phones and other jewelry, including Spates’ earrings.
During the attack, Spates said she made sure to study the faces of the assailants, mainly because she was angry over losing her rings. She recalled when Wieser popped the question — a year ago in Della Notte, the Little Italy restaurant where they had their first date, and how they had met, both cheerleaders for the Ravens during the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.
“I was really angry,” Spates said. “I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘You will not get away with this.’” But she said she made sure to comply with the demands, even if slowly. “You don’t ask questions,” she said. “You just want to get away in one piece. We’re just trying to stay positive. We recognize that we’re both alive and unharmed. Everything else is replaceable.”
After the robbers rode off, Spates and Wieser banged on doors until someone answered and called police. Court documents say that Wieser did not get a good look at the assailants, but that “Spates had more time to see what was going on before she was approached and placed on the ground.”
She described the suspects as black males and said the one holding the gun — identified by police as Rosaly — was wearing a dew rag and a black “hoodie.” She said the man who forced her to the ground had a darker complexion. Both were wearing jeans and dark clothing.
Police said an officer who heard the crime broadcast over the radio “recalled seeing persons fitting those descriptions on bicycles a little earlier on the shift.” Police said officer stopped three on Leadenhall Street, and that Spates “positively identified Mr. Rosaly as one of the suspects.”
Back at the Southern District station, police said in court documents that Spates identified Maultsby from a photo array. He was arrested later on Saturday.
Spates said she and her husband have lived in South Baltimore for 18 months, and before that she lived in Canton, Federal Hill and Locust Point. In all those years, she said, “neither of us have been accosted, approached or even looked at the wrong way. We never felt unsafe, even once.”
She said she enjoys the city because she can walk everywhere, from the veterinarian for their dog to a bar for a drink, and that despite her being from Long Island and her husband from Houston and Buffalo, they married four months ago in Baltimore and had their reception at the Visionary Arts Museum.
On Monday night, the couple walked to a community meeting in Riverside, where the attack was the main subject of conversation. “I’m not going to lie,” Spates said. “I looked over my shoulder. … This only happened a couple days ago. Over time, I don’t think I’ll be looking over my shoulder as much.”
The suspects have had brushes with the law. Court records show one prior arrest for Rosaly, in January for marijuana possession, which prosecutors did not pursue.
Maultsby has had several run-ins with police, with two arrests on drug charges, but no convictions. Two years ago, police charged him with car theft but prosecutors put the case on the inactive docket; his attorney at the time said he was a passenger in a car stolen from an Outward Bound program and agreed to perform community service.
Alvarez said she talked briefly with Rosaly from the city detention center. “He was telling me he’s innocent and he doesn’t know why they’re doing this to him,” she said.