Youth, 17, gives up in 2 shooting cases Suspect in slaying, attack on vendors

July 25, 1992|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff Writer

A 17-year-old youth wanted on suspicion of killing a city school teacher July 14 and of critically injuring two hot dog vendors three days later turned himself in to police last night at the urging of his aunt.

Anthony Wendell Smith of the 1000 block of Pennsylvania Ave. surrendered at 8:30 p.m. after nearly two days of hiding from police.

He is charged as an adult with first-degree murder, attempted murder, robbery and handgun violations.

"I told him 'the police want you bad, they're going to shoot you down if you don't give up now,' " said his aunt, Regina Cunningham, 34, who called police to her home in the 400 block of East Lorraine Ave.

Police started a manhunt for the Smith youth Thursday after they targeted him as a suspect in the July 17 shootings of two hot dog vendors, John Trikilis, 27, and Mindy Lynn Murzda, 21, outside the University of Maryland Dental School.

Homicide detectives yesterday charged him with the slaying three days earlier of Ervin Nathaniel Brown, 41, a popular mathematics teacher at Winston Middle. Mr. Brown was shot several times in the head and chest in his car as he waited for a red light shortly after midnight July 14.

Police said they believe the youth pulled the trigger in both crimes.

Last night, Ms. Cunningham said she urged her nephew to turn himself in after he appeared outside her door, apparently "very scared and worried about what was going to happen to him."

"I said to him, 'Tony, you can't keep running forever,' " she said, sitting in her scantly furnished home. "I asked God to help me persuade him to turn himself in."

The youth agreed and told his aunt to go ahead and call detectives.

Detective Barry Grant said the Smith youth was being held last night without bail at the Central District lockup, where he was to be questioned about the Brown slaying by homicide detectives.

Mr. Brown was shot shortly after midnight after a stranger got into his car and announced a robbery, said homicide Detective Donald Waltemeyer.

Mr. Brown, a Baltimore teacher for 17 years, had taught at Winston Middle for eight years and was "one of the most loved teachers at the school," said school system spokesman Nat Harrington.

Mr. Brown had been teaching summer school this year, Mr. Harrington said.

In the hot dog vendor shooting on July 17, police said, a gunman opened fire on Mr. Trikilis and Ms. Murzda as they served a line of lunchtime customers.

The gunman and an accomplice then grabbed Ms. Murzda's hip pack containing cash and ran off. Mr. Trikilis and Ms. Murzda both remained in critical condition yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

On Thursday, police arrested 16-year-old Jacoby Bennett of Baltimore and charged him as an adult with attempted murder and armed robbery. Police said the Bennett youth is suspected of being the accomplice in the robbery of the vendors.

The university and the hospital offered a reward of $2,000 for information leading to an arrest; Metro Crimestoppers also put up $1,000, Detective Grant said yesterday.

Ms. Cunningham said she called police simply because "I love Tony and I don't want to see him get in any more trouble." She said she has tried to look out for the youth since his mother died of cirrhosis of the liver and his father left him.

"He's got no one," she said.

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