The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office has reassigned the prosecutor handling the case of 15-year-old accused of shooting and killing a man who confronted a group of squeegee workers with a baseball bat, accusing her of leaking a confidential court document to an attorney representing the family, Thiru Vignarajah.
Michael Dunty, chief of the homicide division, has replaced Assistant State’s Attorney Rita Wisthoff-Ito on the case, The Baltimore Banner has learned. She had been assigned to prosecute the teen in the killing of Timothy Reynolds, who was shot on July 7 at the intersection of Light and Conway streets near the Inner Harbor.
Wisthoff-Ito could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. She has been with the office since 2000, according to the city’s salary database.
In a memo sent out to all staff, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wrote that “shielded information of a juvenile’s case was shared to outside counsel.”
“Let me be clear, each of you has an ethical obligation to ensure the confidentiality of juvenile records regardless of the charges the defendant may face,” Mosby said. “As officers of the court, willfully disseminating such information to outside counsel goes against everything we stand for in not only compromising the integrity of the case, but prejudicing the defendant in the judicial process. It will not be tolerated.”
The development comes during a whirlwind week in which Vignarajah and the teen’s defense attorneys held five news conferences in three days ahead of a key hearing. They accused each other of peddling misinformation, misrepresenting the facts of the case and trying to taint a potential jury pool.
Circuit Judge Charles H. Dorsey III is set to decide on Thursday whether to keep the case in adult court or send it to juvenile court, which would have jurisdiction until the teen turns 21. Prosecutors and defense attorneys have reached a proposed a plea agreement that would call for a lesser charge of manslaughter to be adjudicated in the juvenile justice system.
The teen is charged with first-degree murder, which carries a potential life sentence. He was 14 at the time of the killing and went to Digital Harbor High School.
Dorsey closed the hearing to the public and press. The Baltimore Banner and The Daily Record filed a motion to intervene and open the court proceedings, but he denied that request in a one-sentence order.
A spokesperson for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, Emily Witty, declined to provide the name of the prosecutor assigned to the case.
Wisthoff-Ito previously extended a plea agreement on a charge of first-degree murder that called for a sentence of 60 years in prison, a routine offer in these cases.
Without mentioning Wisthoff-Ito by name, Witty later released a statement that asserted the prosecutor assigned to the case “single-handedly and deliberately developed and conveyed an offer without the approval of supervisors, nor that of State’s Attorney Mosby.”
Reynolds’ family members object to the case being sent to juvenile court. Vignarajah walked reporters through a court document that Wisthoff-Ito filed that included photos from surveillance video and argued that the killing was premeditated murder.
Vignarajah disputed the suggestion that Reynolds, 48, of Hampden, was a “crazed, intoxicated, bat-wielding maniac who viciously attacked a number of children.”
Meanwhile, J. Wyndal Gordon and Warren Brown, the teen’s attorneys, maintain their client — if he was the shooter — at least partially acted in self-defense and that the juvenile justice system would best serve him and the interest of public safety.
They pointed to a recent opinion from the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, which outlined a legal standard that judges should apply when deciding whether to transfer a case to juvenile court.
“Marilyn Mosby is simply doing what the law requires her to do,” Gordon said of her decision to recommend that the case be handled in juvenile court.
“Shoutout to Marilyn Mosby for being a visionary, for having the courage to do the right thing,” he added.
Gordon and Brown have both supported Mosby’s political campaigns.
In a statement, Vignarajah said victims of crime are as entitled to information about the case as the defense.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for defense attorneys who have peddled a fictionalized account of what happened to now complain that the truth is coming out,” said Vignarajah, who unsuccessfully ran for Baltimore state’s attorney in 2018 and 2022 and for mayor in 2020.
Reynolds’ sister, Becky Reynolds, said in a statement that Wisthoff-Ito and the Baltimore Police detectives have been “the only ones fighting for justice and fighting for the victims from day one.”
The teen is being held without bail in the Youth Detention Center.