Man gets 25 year-term in shooting of officer

August 21, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge handed a 25-year prison term yesterday to Sean L. Little, a city man convicted on charges stemming from the shooting of police Officer James E. Young Jr.

Officer Young was shot in the head last year as he attempted to make a drug arrest in Flag House Courts, the East Baltimore public housing project where Little lives.

The shooting left the 26-year-old Southeastern District officer partially blind and with motor skill damage. He does not recall the shooting.

More than 20 uniformed city police officers joined Officer Young in the courtroom yesterday to watch Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe sentence Little to the maximum 15 years in prison for assault with intent to avoid arrest, plus another 10 years on drug charges.

Asked during a brief interview for his reaction to the sentence, Officer Young said, "I'm pleased. I think it's all right."

Little, 22, had faced a maximum of 55 years in prison.

But Judge Bothe said that padding the maximum sentence on the assault count by doling out maximum terms for the drug charges would be to surrender to the emotions surrounding the case.

During the hearing, prosecutor Donald J. Giblin had pointed to Officer Young and said: "For all intents and purposes, this man should be dead. He is a medical miracle."

In June, a jury found Little guilty on all charges stemming from the Sept. 18, 1992, incident. Testimony in the trial suggested Officer Young's 9-mm Glock handgun was in his hand when it discharged during a struggle with Little. He was shot once in the head.

Interviewed by police after his arrest, Little admitted to selling drugs and scuffling with Officer Young but denied shooting the officer.

Little did not testify during his trial. According to his lawyer, Little was convicted on a drug charge in 1989 and served time in the Maryland prison system's boot camp.

Little declined to address the court during yesterday's hearing and displayed no reaction as the sentence was announced. As he was led handcuffed from the courtroom he appeared to steal a brief glance at Officer Young, who was seated in a wheelchair next to the front row of the spectators gallery.

Officer Young's mother, Garnetta Raynor, told reporters, "I think the judge gave a good sentence," but she noted that Little could one day be a free man while her son's injuries appear certain to stay with him the rest of his life.

Asked whether doctors expect her son to show continued improvement, Ms. Raynor said, "Jimmy's improved 100 percent over what they expected. He's a strong guy."

During the hearing, Ms. Raynor made a brief but emotional statement in which she talked of being a single, teen-age, inner-city mother challenged to raise her son to avoid the temptations of a life of crime.

"It's hard to see your son almost dead," she said. "It's just hard, as a mother, knowing your son got hurt trying to do a job, trying to get people off drugs. He could've decided to be a drug dealer. He could've decided to rob people. It's just hard. I guess that's all I have to say."

Arguing that Little deserved a sentence of no more than 15 years, defense lawyer Jack B. Rubin noted that another man originally charged in the incident received 10 years for theft and a teen-ager also involved received a suspended sentence on a drug charge.

Stressing that his client did not intend for the officer to be shot, Mr. Rubin also reminded the court that an assault with intent to murder charge against Little had been dismissed by prosecutors on the eve of trial.

Mr. Giblin, the prosecutor, replied that the shooting was the outcome of Little's decision to sell drugs and then to resist arrest. The prosecutor asked the judge to send a message to the city that assaults on police officers lead to severe punishment.

But afterward, some of the officers in attendance did not seem impressed with the sentence.

"Was that a message?" one sergeant said. "It didn't help us any."

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