A widow's despair turns to disbelief 2 favored workers held in eatery slaying

November 21, 1991|By John Rivera

Two weeks after her husband was shot and killed in their downtown Baltimore eatery, Young Mee Shin said she was just beginning to feel that life, after all, would go on. When she reopened Treate's on Monday, Mrs. Shin spoke of the kindness and assistance of many customers and friends, including two teen-age employees.

But yesterday Mrs. Shin was trying to cope with another shock: The two employees, both 17, were arrested and charged as accomplices in the robbery and slaying of Myung Gin Shin, 32, on Nov. 6.

In addition to the two youths, Kendall Easter and Shawn Courtney, Baltimore police officers arrested 14-year-old Brian Johnson, who was charged as an adult, and James Hickman, 21, who police say was the gunman.

Overwhelmed by the latest news, Mrs. Shin was joined yesterday evening by dozens of her husband's friends at a vigil in his honor outside the restaurant on the ground floor of the Equitable Building, across the street from the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse.

Many who gathered on the sidewalk as rush-hour traffic streamed north on Calvert Street were from the Korean community. But most came from the office buildings surrounding Treate's, where they had eaten lunch every day.

Mrs. Shin, holding her 3-year-old daughter, Hyun Joo, began to ++ thank those gathered for their support. "The thank-you list could go on and on, the customers and friends . . . I really thank all of you," she said before breaking into sobs, unable to continue.

Earlier in the day, Mrs. Shin said she had a hard time believing that the two young employees could have been involved in the robbery that claimed her husband's life.

"I cried and cried when I heard those two were involved," she said. "I still can't believe it. . . . In fact, I defended them. When the detective was asking me questions, I told him they would never do such a thing."

She said that Kendall Easter had started working at the luncheonette at the beginning of summer and that Shawn Courtney had been working there almost a year. "I like them a lot," she said. "I cared for them."

She added that the two, who chopped vegetables for the salad bar and cleaned the restaurant, were reliable employees who did not miss work and rarely complained.

The two youths initially told the police that they had been cleaning up in the kitchen after the restaurant closed when they heard scuffling and went to the front. There, they said, they saw Mr. Shin fighting with two attackers, one of whom was armed with a handgun. Mr. Shin was shot once in the head.

The two employees said the two robbers then tied them up and forced them into a freezer in the kitchen. One of the employees managed to free himself after the robbers fled, they told police, and ran to an adjacent store for help.

But as the youths were questioned, homicide detectives said, holes started to appear in their story.

BTC "There were discrepancies from day one," said Detective Richard Garvey, who declined to elaborate. "There were things heard during the investigation that were nonsensical.

"We know now that they were involved in the planning of the robbery," Detective Garvey said. "And they provided police with the fictitious descriptions of the suspects, which led to the fictitious composites" -- which were published in The Sun and shown on local TV news broadcasts.

Mr. Easter, of the 3900 block of Towanda Avenue, and Mr. Courtney, of the 2800 block of Santa Fe Avenue, were arrested Tuesday afternoon at the Courthouse East Building at 101 N. Calvert St. They were being held without bail last night at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

The Johnson youth, of the 2800 block of Ridgewood Avenue, who is an eighth-grade student at Greenspring Middle School, and Mr. Hickman, of the 2800 block of West Cold Spring Lane, were both arrested at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday in front of the youth's Northwest Baltimore home. They were being held without bail last night at the Northwestern District lockup.

All have been charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and handgun violations.

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