Alleged killer of teen-ager in doorbell fray arrested Suspect was living in area. Eluded police for 4 months.

April 20, 1992|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

A 49-year-old man who eluded police for four months has been arrested by police in West Baltimore on charges of killing a teen-ager after the youth and others annoyingly rang the man's father's doorbell.

Authorities thought that William Cecil Brandon Jr. had left the state, but they didn't know where he had gone. The television show "America's Most Wanted" planned to profile the case in May.

But yesterday, homicide detectives discovered that Mr. Brandon had returned to the city and was living on a street corner just 15 blocks from where Rubin "Moe" Lawson, 13, was shot.

"We got a tip he was in the area," said Sgt. Jay Landsman of the homicide unit. "We rode up there, and we found him. We were looking for him for a long time. He was supposed to go out of state, but he came back."

Mr. Brandon, who police said grew a beard to change his appearance, was arrested without incident about 6 p.m. in the 600 block of Poplar Grove St.

He was charged in a warrant with first-degree murder Sunday, Dec. 8, the night of the murder. He was scheduled for a bail review hearing today in Southwestern District Court.

Rubin, who lived in the 900 block of Edmondson Ave., was shot after a dispute about children ringing the doorbell of Mr. Brandon's father, William C. Brandon Sr., 68, who lives in the first block of N. Smallwood St.

Shortly before 8 p.m., Rubin and other youths rang the bell more than once at the home and apparently taunted the elder Brandon through a window before darting away, police said.

Rubin, who had been visiting his grandmother, was joining other youths who apparently pulled the prank often to unnerve the elder Mr. Brandon, who became upset and sent his visiting son to the door to deal with the boys.

"I came in here and told my son: 'Go out there and straighten that kid up.'" the elder Mr. Brandon told a Sun reporter in the days after the slaying. "'I had no idea he was going to shoot him. The way I figured, if a younger person goes out there, they might listen more than if it was an old man."

The younger Mr. Brandon opened the door, grabbed Rubin, pressed a handgun to the youth's chest and pulled the trigger, police said.

The mortally wounded youth, a Harlem Park Middle School student, was rushed to the University of Maryland Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead 30 minutes later. The younger Mr. Brandon was last seen running down an alley near Pulaski Street, dressed in the pinstripe suit that he was wearing especially for a Sunday visit with his father, police said.

The elder Mr. Brandon said in December that his son, described by neighbors as a block captain who loved kids, had warned him to tolerate the youths and their pranks. "He told me: 'Daddy, don't hit those kids . . . If he didn't want me to hit one, how the hell would he shoot one?"

After the shooting, in what the police believe was an act of retaliation, someone set fire to the elder Mr. Brandon's pickup truck.

The younger Mr. Brandon was on probation for a drug charge at the time and had been convicted of manslaughter in 1969.

The manslaughter case arose out of an argument over a $1 bet in a dice game outside a tavern at Robert Street and Linden Avenue.

During his trial, Mr. Brandon testified that as he pulled out his gun in self-defense, he tripped over a curb and the gun fired, killing Carnell Kearns. Brandon received an eight-year sentence.

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