Everyone agreed that when Michael Fratantuono threw two men out of his Glen Burnie package goods store in October, one of them spit in his face.
The men had been rousted earlier in the evening for drinking beer behind the Sunset Restaurant and Lounge in the 600 block of Greenway S.E., and Mr. Fratantuono refused to sell them more beer when they returned about two hours later.
Mr. Fratantuono identified Jeffrey B. Anderson as the spitter, and he was arrested and charged with battery. Anderson, 30, claimed in court that he was taking the fall for his buddy, Billy Hepburn.
Yesterday, it took a Circuit Court jury just five minutes to decide that Anderson, of Pasadena, was guilty of battery as well as trespassing. He faces a sentence of up to 20 years for the battery conviction. Prosecutor Robert Bittman said he would definitely recommend jail time, although he would not decide how much until the completion of a presentencing investigation.
The incident started at about 8 p.m. Oct. 21, when Mr. Fratantuono called the police to roust four men who were drinking beer in the woods behind the restaurant. A police officer poured the beer onto the ground and ordered the men to leave and not return, court documents showed.
About two hours later, Anderson and Mr. Hepburn returned and tried to buy another six-pack of beer. Mr. Fratantuono ordered the men to leave.
He testified that the men began arguing as they left and that Anderson spit in his face. But in court yesterday, an agitated Anderson testified that he was pushed from behind by Mr. Fratantuono and that Mr. Hepburn spit in his face to defend his friend. Anderson said he told the police officer he did the spitting because Mr. Hepburn had been sticking up for him.
"He's taking my rap for me, I'm taking his rap for him. . . . I said he didn't do it, I did it, so you can throw the charges on me," Anderson on the witness stand. But then he wanted to set the record straight.
"I didn't do it, I didn't do it. That's the God's truth," he said.
Both Anne Arundel County police officers involved in the arrest testified that Anderson made no such confession and that he dTC was charged because Mr. Fratantuono identified him as his assailant.
Mr. Hepburn still faces a trespassing charge. Sentencing for Anderson was set for Aug. 19.