3 more teens charged in death of Maryland police officer
By DAVID McFADDEN and SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
TOWSON, Md. (AP) — A day after a 16-year-old suspect was charged with first-degree murder for allegedly accelerating a stolen Jeep at a Maryland police officer and fatally running her down, three more teenagers have been charged as adults in her death.
Under the state's felony murder law, if someone is killed during a robbery, accomplices can be found guilty of the slaying along with the killer. For this reason, authorities say the three were charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio even though they were allegedly burglarizing a nearby home when she was killed on a suburban cul-de-sac.
Fifteen-year-old Darrell Jaymar Ward, 16-year-old Derrick Eugene Matthews and 17-year-old Eugene Robert Genius IV were scheduled to appear at bail hearings Wednesday afternoon. Tracked down at their Baltimore homes and arrested Tuesday, they are also charged with first-degree burglary. Court records did not list defense attorneys, and attempts to reach people believed to be relatives were not immediately successful.
Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger said the three can be held "for everything that occurs as a result of that burglary, including when their co-defendant is outside running over a police officer and killing her."
A fourth suspect, 16-year-old Dawnta Anthony Harris, was the first to be charged with first-degree murder. The slain officer's body camera footage clearly shows Harris accelerating the Jeep at her after she tried to apprehend him in the suburban Perry Hall community northeast of Baltimore, prosecutor William Bickel said during his bail hearing.
Harris was ordered held without bond after a hearing Tuesday in which a judge described him as a "one-man crime wave." The Associated Press does not ordinarily identify underage suspects unless they face adult charges.
A public defender who represented Harris at his initial court appearance requested that he be sent to a juvenile lockup, but prosecutors noted his series of auto theft arrests and a repeated recent history of running away from juvenile facilities. The judge ordered him to be housed at an adult jail.
Baltimore defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon announced Wednesday that he will join with another lawyer to represent Harris, saying they will not allow the 16-year-old suspect to be "sacrificed to the system without due process and zealous advocacy."
"Every life is worth fighting for. This young man is no different, he deserves a chance. And let's not forget, even though I refer to him as a young man, he is still a child," Gordon wrote Wednesday in a Facebook post.
It wasn't immediately clear if the defense lawyers planned to represent the other three suspects.
The 29-year-old Caprio was run down Monday by a stolen Jeep driven by Harris after she responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle, investigators have said.
Harris was apprehended shortly after abandoning the Jeep, which police said had been stolen May 18 in Baltimore. According to probable cause statement, Harris admitted as much, telling a detective that he "drove at the officer."
According to probable cause statements obtained Wednesday, Harris identified Ward, Matthews and Genius as the three subjects responsible for the burglary.
Matthews and Ward admitting to committing the burglary, probable cause statements said. Genius at first declined to give a statement but later objected to being charged with murder, saying he was in the house when the killing occurred, another statement said.
Harris was supposed to be on house arrest and was still wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet when he ran down Caprio, authorities said. The ninth-grader was on house arrest at his mother's West Baltimore home, but ran away May 14, they said.
Sam Abed, the Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services, said at a news conference that his department had made "many attempts" to contact Harris after he went missing from his mother's house but was unsuccessful.
The ankle bracelet Harris was wearing Monday simply indicated whether he was inside or outside his home — it did not track his whereabouts, Shellenberger said.
"Did the system not work?" police Chief Terrence Sheridan said. "It sounds like ... it could have worked better in this particular case."
Caprio, who would have been on the force four years in July, was smart, athletic and energetic, just the type of officer you want to hire, Sheridan said. She and her husband were to start vacation this weekend to celebrate their third wedding anniversary and their upcoming birthdays, police said.
A medical examiner determined she died of trauma to the head and torso, according to Sheridan.
The death stunned the quiet, residential neighborhood of Perry Hall where she was killed. A steady stream of residents and well-wishers have left bouquets and other offerings just outside the police station where she once worked.
Rankin reported from Richmond, Virginia. Associated Press writers Courtney Columbus in Towson, Maryland, and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.Associated Press