Defense attorney Warren Brown on his client Dawnta Harris, 17, being found guilty of murder of Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio. (Baltimore Sun)

In her recent commentary, Elizabeth Heubeck acts like Dawnta Harris's fate only happens in this generation (“The tragedy of Baltimore’s Dawnta Harris,” May 3). Let me take you back to the early 1940s when I was an only child born to "normal parents.” My father left us when I was three. I had no interaction with him at all except for occasional visit — with no guidance. So I was raised by a single mother, very rare for that era. During the war, she was a Rosie the Riveter. After that, she worked in the clothing industry as a tailor. I was partially raised by my grandmother who lived with us and spoke little to no English.

We lived on Monroe Street just above North Avenue. I went to school until I joined the Army in 1958. I didn't graduate from high school. Did I do some foolish things in my early to late teens? You bet. Then, in 1958, while home on leave, I met my future wife. We were married in 1960, had two children which we both raised (her more than me). So at that point, when the first child came along, I realized I had to face up to my responsibilities. At that time, I was just 21 years old.

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My wife had a similar upbringing. Her father died when she was four years old and left seven children. Her mother raised all of them with little financial help. All of the children then worked to finance the family’s needs. My wife was raised in north Baltimore and was the only child to graduate from high school.

With my wife's help — she took on all the household chores including lawn care — I was able to advance in the business arena. We were a true partnership. And with just a 9th grade education, I went on to become vice-president of two corporations. My wife worked three to four years, long enough for us to buy a house and then she was able to stay home and raise the family.

With all the tough times — and there were plenty — none of us robbed or killed anyone. When I hear or read all this dribble about “oh, they had a tough upbringing,” I sit back and smile. Who didn't? I don't know if Dawnta had a father in his life, but a lot of us didn't and we mostly did the right thing.

Tony Sperandeo, Baltimore

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