A boy who turned 15 last Friday has been arrested and charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a 48-year-old motorist who confronted squeegee workers with a baseball bat.
Police said the boy was arrested before 7 a.m. at a home in Essex, and he was transported to police headquarters with his father. He is charged as an adult with first-degree murder.
The Banner reported Saturday that Timothy Reynolds left his car idling and crossed eight lanes of traffic to confront a group of squeegee workers. But a motorist’s dash camera video showed Reynolds also walking away from the intersection when squeegee workers converged on him out from 20 feet away.
Reynolds can be seen running at them wielding a bat. One worker can be seen hitting Reynolds in the head, and seconds later another fired five shots at him.
The Baltimore Banner obtained a copy of the dashcam video from a source who agreed to let The Banner describe the video, but did not grant permission to publish it, as it depicts a person’s final moments.
The organizer of an online fundraiser for the Reynolds family said the family declined to comment on the arrest.
Under Maryland law, someone must make a reasonable effort to retreat before responding with deadly force to an aggressor. Self-defense cases are more straightforward when a shooter is confined inside his or her home. On the streets, the matter is complicated.
For one, the person may respond with deadly force only if he or she can’t retreat or can’t retreat safely. Their surroundings — say, a brick wall or lanes of fast-moving traffic — may factor in.
Secondly, for the act to be considered self-defense under the law, the shooter must convince a judge or jury that he or she had a reasonable expectation that the weapon, in this case a bat, presented a lethal threat. That issue, too, could be complicated by factors such as how the bat was wielded and what, if any, words were spoken by the aggressor.
Police charged the teen as an adult with first-degree murder. Any judge or jury would also have the option of considering lesser murder charges, such as second-degree murder or manslaughter.
There is no circumstance under Maryland law where a 14- or 15-year-old is permitted to carry a handgun.
A spokeswoman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the decision to charge the boy as an adult with first-degree murder.
Defense attorneys are likely to petition a judge to transfer the case to juvenile court. In juvenile court, a child faces the possibility of being detained until around the maximum age of 21. In Circuit Court, he or she faces life in prison.
Judges consider age, mental and physical condition, amenability to treatment, the nature of the offense and public safety when deciding whether to transfer a case to juvenile court. Hearings on the issue can be hard-fought, lengthy and involved, said defense attorney James Johnston, who represented children in such cases for the Office of Public Defender.
“With transfer cases, defense lawyers will typically deep dig into their client’s background — interviewing family and teachers and arranging for an in-depth mental health evaluation. The goal is to show the judge deciding the transfer case that a young person has treatment needs that can be successfully met in the juvenile system, and that the juvenile system will result in a better outcome than time in the adult prison system,” he explained in an email.
Squeegee workers have been a racial flash point in Baltimore for decades, with some motorists recounting negative interactions when they refused to have their cars cleaned and others saying workers are trying to make a buck and are polite to those who are respectful to them.
Mayor Brandon Scott said school police assisted city police in the investigation.
“As I’ve said continuously, any person that endangers the safety and well-being of anyone on the streets of Baltimore, they will be held accountable. Now we must support our community in healing especially the impacted families,” Scott said in a statement. “As we allow this case to be handled by the appropriate parties, we must continue to do all we can to prevent people — especially young people — from having to engage in activities that put the lives of others or their own lives at risk.”
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said the case was “another sad reminder that guns are too easily accessible to our young people.”
Under state law, the charge of first-degree murder for someone 14 or older must be filed in adult court. A waiver hearing will be held to determine if the case should be heard in juvenile court.
The story was updated to correct the maximum age a child may be held when convicted in juvenile court.
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