2 guilty of manslaughter in Patterson Park attack Jury acquits third defendant in fatal beating of man.

April 16, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer ypB

Two of three teen-agers accused of bludgeoning a man to death last summer in Patterson Park were convicted yesterday of manslaughter and carrying a deadly weapon, while the third defendant was acquitted.

A city Circuit Court jury deliberated for nine hours before convicting Terry A. Ostrowski, 18, and Anthony Fields, 16, of manslaughter, rather than second-degree murder as charged, in the June 27 death of James Charles Turch.

Ostrowski, who prosecutors said split Mr. Turch's skull with blows from a 4-foot wooden stake, and Fields, accused of kicking the victim's face so hard he left a shoe imprint, face maximum prison sentences of 13 years each. They are to be sentenced June 8 by Judge Andre M. Davis.

The third defendant, Christopher Mills, 18, was found not guilty on all charges but left the courtroom bitterly angry that he had to leave his two friends behind.

"We went to that park together, and we should be leaving this courtroom together. This is a tremendous injustice for the both of them," said Mr. Mills, who was accused of throwing the first punch. "The person who delivered the blows that killed that man was not brought to justice," he said, referring to other people he thought should have been charged in the death.

During the trial, defense attorneys contended the three young men had been on a drinking binge when they went to Patterson Park that night.

The defendants testified that they encountered Mr. Turch, who also had been drinking, and that Mr. Turch tried to sexually molest Fields. The ensuing fight occurred when Ostrowski and Mr. Mills came to the aid of their friend, argued M. Cristina Gutierrez, Fields' attorney.

A large throng of revelers who regularly gather in the park also became involved in the confrontation, and -- according to arguments from the defendants and their lawyers -- several others beat Mr. Turch, who the attorneys said was a homosexual.

After the verdicts, some jurors noted there was conflicting testimony as to who did what during the fight.

"The case against Mr. Mills definitely was not as strong. We think we made the right decision," said juror Dwayne Carter.

A key witness in the trial, Kimberly Padgett, testified that she saw Ostrowski and Fields severely beating Mr. Turch, who she said was lying powerless on the ground.

Miss Padgett, 18, the former girlfriend of Mr. Mills, said the young men began beating Mr. Turch after Ostrowski reported that the victim tried to solicit sexual favors from them.

"They were chasing this man and screaming at him. They were acting stupid," Miss Padgett testified. "The man kept walking. He was trying to ignore them."

Ostrowski grabbed a stick that was used as a support for a tree and clouted Mr. Turch across the back and in the head, Miss Padgett said.

Assistant State's Attorney William McCollum argued that the three defendants had acted as a group in the beating simply because they "were feeling tough and brave."

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