Baldwin man convicted in sex assault on youth

March 10, 1995|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A 26-year-old Baldwin man was convicted yesterday of sexually assaulting a Towson boy last year in a parking garage at Towson Town Center.

The youth, now 14, had gone to the mall with his parents to spend money he had been given for having a good report card.

Yesterday, he testified without flinching and pointed directly at Daniel G. Brunner Jr. as the man who grabbed him around the neck on Feb. 28, 1994, forced him down a stairwell and performed several sex acts. Police were led to Brunner after the teen-ager saw his picture on television after Brunner's arrest in October in a Carroll County case.

Brunner, a former Baltimore resident who lives in the 12900 block of Fork Road, testified and denied attacking the youth. He said he didn't remember where he was that night, but may have been caring for a friend injured in a car accident.

But Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II found Brunner guilty of a first-degree sex offense, kidnapping, and lesser offenses. The judge revoked bail and ordered a psychiatric examination before sentencing May 10.

Assistant State's Attorney John P. Cox said sentencing guidelines call for an 10- to 18-year term.

Brunner, who had no criminal record, is awaiting trial in Carroll County on charges that he molested three boys in the Hampstead-Manchester area.

Defense attorney Anton J. S. Keating said he and his client chose a nonjury trial before Judge Turnbull because the Carroll charges would have inflamed a jury. Mr. Keating argued that the Towson case was one of "mistaken identity."

Previously, the youth never had even tentatively identified anyone as a suspect -- although a man matching the attacker's description was brought to him at the mall that night and police showed him photographs of possible suspects four times.

Then on Oct. 28, the youth said he saw the man on a local news broadcast. It was a report of Brunner's arrest on the Carroll County charges. At a line-up, the youth immediately picked out Brunner.

The youth's father testified that on the evening of the attack the family had gone to Towson Town Center with "the kids' report card money." His son became bored "looking at kitchen utensils and asked if he could go off by himself." The father agreed, saying they were to meet at 8 p.m. at the third-floor garage entrance to Hecht's.

After buying items, the youth said he arrived at the entrance early and was standing on the bridge to the garage when Brunner appeared, asking if he was waiting for someone and offering a cigarette.

"I got impatient and turned to go back into Hecht's to look for them," the youth testified. "I got almost to the door and the man came up behind me and put his arm around my neck."

The attacker threatened to break his neck as he took him down two sets of stairs to a landing where the assaults occurred, the youth said. The man ran down the stairs after hearing noises from the level above.

The judge said he found testimony of the victim and the defendant forthright, but said the youth's "identification was crystal clear, without any hesitation or any doubt."

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