Man guilty in shooting of officer State to seek maximum sentence BALTIMORE CITY

June 23, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A former resident of the Flag House Courts public housing project was convicted yesterday on all charges stemming from the shooting of police Officer James E. Young Jr. during a drug arrest last September in the East Baltimore high-rise.

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury deliberated for 90 minutes before finding Sean L. Little, 22, guilty of assault with the intent to avoid a lawful arrest, possession of heroin with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute heroin. Upon hearing the jury's verdict, Little hung his head. He later sat with his face in his hands.

Little faces maximum prison terms of 15 years on the assault conviction and 20 years on each of the drug convictions at his sentencing, scheduled for Aug. 20.

"I think it's fair to assume the state will be asking for the maximum," prosecutor Donald J. Giblin said outside the courthouse after the verdict. "I think when you shoot a Baltimore city police officer in the head, you ought to pay a pretty heavy price."

Who fired the shot that struck Officer Young in the head was not at issue before the jury -- the prosecution dropped a charge of assault with intent to murder before the trial began last week.

Officer Young -- who remains partially blind and partially paralyzed -- does not recall the shooting or the events leading up to it and Little, who did not testify during the trial, denied shooting the officer when questioned by police last September. During the trial, the defense suggested the officer shot himself during a struggle with Little.

Still, with Officer Young and more than a dozen city police officers looking on, Mr. Giblin asked the jury to hold Little responsible for the shooting by rejecting the suspect's claim that he reacted out of fear that the officer was going to kill him.

That claim had formed the basis for the defense case, which held that Little could not be convicted of assault with the intent to avoid arrest if he was trying to survive what he thought to be a life-threatening situation.

"It's not whether the officer was going to kill him or not. It's whether Mr. Little believed it," defense lawyer Jack B. Rubin told the jury. "On the third tier of the projects, with a gun stuck in his face? Of course he believed it.

"Certain things in this case don't add up," the defense lawyer added. "Why was James Young on the tier by himself? I can't tell you. No backup in the projects?"

Mr. Rubin also accused police of fudging evidence in order to build the drug case against Little.

Mr. Giblin, the prosecutor, mockingly asked if the right to flee an appropriately forceful arrest amounted to "a new bill of rights for drug dealers."

Earlier, the prosecutor had offered to the jury a reconstruction of the officer's thoughts in approaching Little with gun drawn to arrest him and two others for selling drugs in the high-rise stairwell.

"I don't know if these guys are armed. Dope dealers often are," Mr. Giblin said softly. Then, shouting, he quoted the officer: "Get down m Get down!"

"My training tells me there is one way to get ahold of the situation. You have to intimidate them," Mr. Giblin said.

He said Little fought with Officer Young because he refused to own up to the realities of being a drug dealer after being caught red-handed selling heroin.

"The rules are there are a lot of benefits, but if you get caught you go to jail. That's the way the game is supposed to be played, but Sean Little didn't play that game," the prosecutor said. "His problem is he didn't want to spend one day in jail."

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