A Baltimore grand jury on Tuesday indicted a 15-year-old squeegee worker on the charge of first-degree murder for the killing of Timothy Reynolds last month.
The indictment means the boy’s case will remain for now in the adult court system, where he could face as much as life in prison if convicted. Defense attorneys and activists had called for the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to reduce the charges and prosecute the boy in juvenile court instead.
Warren Brown, the teen’s attorney, said he will still ask a judge to move the case to juvenile court.
“We were hoping that we wouldn’t have to go that route,” he said. “We were hoping the state would dismiss the first-degree murder charge.”
A spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office declined to immediately comment, citing the case as open and pending.
The killing of Reynolds, 48, a husband and father of three, has become a flashpoint in the debate over Baltimore squeegee workers. For decades, city youth and some adults have made money by washing windshields on street corners, at times resulting in tense confrontations with drivers.
A reduction in charges against the 15-year-old would have sent his case to juvenile court. There, a child faces a maximum penalty of being detained until the age of 21.
In circuit court, however, the teen faces life in prison. The Banner is not identifying the teen. Under state law, his case is sealed until the chances run out for defense attorneys to move his case to juvenile court.
Mayor Brandon Scott said he understand the reasons why youth wash windshields on the corners, but he wants them off the streets. In the days after the shooting, he announced plans to deploy police officers to intersections, arrest any squeegee workers who damage cars, and connect youth to jobs.
Friends of Reynolds started a fundraiser online that has collected nearly $70,000 in donations for his widow and children. Meanwhile, the activist group Peoples Power Assembly called for supporters to gather at McKeldin Square Monday evening to protest murder charges against the teen.
”If I were a teenager and an adult who was almost 40 years old came after me with a baseball bat, I would use whatever I had in hand to defend myself from harm. So it is a matter of self-defense,” said Andre Powell, a volunteer with the Peoples Power Assembly.
He was among about 20 people who turned out Monday for the protest. They held signs with “Support Squeegee Workers Not Repression” and “Drop the Charges, Address the Root Causes!”
“It’s unfortunate that the situation ended with a life ending, which could have gone on either side,” Powell said.
Longtime activist the Rev. Annie Chambers said she believes Mosby caved to political pressure.
”The state’s attorney that we have right now got scared. She was in an election, so she hurried up and did what she thought she could get some votes,” Chambers said. “Well, I want her to know that she lost some votes … People that were going to vote for her changed their vote once she decided she was gonna charge a child with murder, who was protecting himself and others. And then charge him as an adult.”
Rasika Ruwanpathirana, another member of the activist group, said he didn’t want to speak about the charges themselves. “It’s up to the lawyers trying to figure that out.”
But he’s against charging the boy as an adult.
“It’s just not fair. The person is 14 years old,” he said. “He’s really a child, and he should be tried as a child.”
The squeegee worker, a student at Digital Harbor High School, was 14 years old when he allegedly shot Reynolds. Under state law, anyone 14 or older charged with first-degree murder starts in adult court.
Under Maryland law, someone must make a reasonable effort to retreat before responding with deadly force to an aggressor. The person must also have a reasonable belief that the aggressor poses a deadly threat.
Police have said Reynolds had “some type of interaction” with squeegee workers at the intersection of Light and Conway streets near the Inner Harbor. Then Reynolds drove through the intersection, parked his vehicle, and walked across eight lanes of traffic carrying a baseball bat, according to witnesses and preliminary statements from police.
It’s not entirely clear what happened next. The Banner obtained a 45-second dashcam video of the shooting. The footage, which does not show the initial encounter or Reynolds’ approach, begins with Reynolds walking away from the intersection. He’s pointing the bat at three squeegee workers, who are following from approximately 20 feet away.
Reynolds walks in front of a car and disappears from view. A description of the video in a police report indicates that’s when the individuals “seemingly surround him.”
Later, Reynolds swings the bat while running toward the youth. One appears to hit Reynolds in the head while he has the bat raised toward a different squeegee worker.
That’s when that squeegee worker starts firing when running away. The teen was arrested about a week later at a home in Essex.
His defense attorneys, Brown and J. Wyndal Gordon — both of whom have supported Mosby’s political campaigns — called a news conference and described the teen’s actions as self-defense. They called for Mosby to reduce the charges. The boy’s father, Tavon Scott Sr., spoke briefly to reporters.
“For a grown man to come at a child with a baseball bat — they’re children. He’s not a squeegee kid. He’s a child, with feelings. That’s my child,” Scott said.
Baltimore District Judge Theresa Morse noted the charging documents state Reynolds was walking away before he was fatally shot and she ordered the boy held without bail.
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