Teen is convicted of manslaughter Defendant claimed fear, self-defense prompted shooting

July 16, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury chose the middle ground yesterday and convicted an Annapolis teen-ager of manslaughter and a gun charge for fatally shooting a man he described as a bully who he claimed had threatened and tried to rob him.

The conviction of Dante Ricardo Mitchell, 18, of the 1900 block of Copeland St. for killing Edward Jerome Scrivner, 24, of the 600 block of Chapelview Drive in Odenton gave a sense of hope and justice to the families of the two young men. The families had become friendly during the trial.

Prosecutors had wanted a first-degree murder conviction and the harshest sentence short of the death penalty.

Defense lawyer John H. Robinson III said: "Obviously, I would have liked to have seen him be found not guilty of all charges. Considering he was facing life without the possibility of parole, this is a good word."

Judge Lawrence H. Rushworth scheduled sentencing for Sept. 21. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, and the weapons charge at least five years.

"It's fair enough with me," said Linda Scrivner of Glen Burnie, the victim's mother. "He's young, he doesn't need to be in there the rest of his life," she said of Mitchell.

Through four days of testimony, she grew so close to Mitchell's family that she was invited to their family barbecue.

"That's the healer; we'll stay in contact," Scrivner said.

Mitchell's family comforted Scrivner during testimony that depicted her son as a bully, a robber and a drug user. Mitchell family members said they felt the eight-woman, four-man jury that deliberated about three hours tried to be fair.

"At least he'll get to come home -- someday," Anita Jones of Annapolis said of her brother. "But I wish it had never happened."

Mitchell shot Scrivner near the recreation center in Meade Village in Odenton at 5: 50 p.m. on Jan. 22, 1997. He did not deny it but said he acted in self-defense.

Children leaving day care activities in the low-income complex saw Scrivner, shot five times in the head, sprawled in a pool of blood. Both men were visiting the complex, which has been troubled by violence, loitering and drugs.

Assistant State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said the verdict showed that people are willing to give a juvenile a break -- Mitchell was 17 at the time -- despite public clamor for tough sentences for violent young offenders.

"Because he was young, because he was drinking and because he killed the neighborhood bully," jurors compromised on the conviction, she said, wondering whether jurors would have been harsher had the victim been "an upstanding person."

Robinson had argued that partial self-defense would require a manslaughter verdict and that his client had been scared.

While jurors heard testimony about Scrivner robbing people, they were not told that Mitchell was expelled from Meade Senior High School for violence and had a significant juvenile record, Leitess said after the trial. Mitchell had had a gun since he was 15, according to testimony.

Mitchell claimed Scrivner threatened him the day before the shooting and was trying to choke him, assertions witnesses partly bolstered. A prosecution witness said she did not see a scuffle.

Pub Date: 7/16/98

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