Two teens plead guilty in shooting

One gets 30 years, other 10 years in wounding of Loyola College student

October 04, 2001|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

Saying they were sorry, two Baltimore teen-agers pleaded guilty yesterday to shooting a Loyola College student in the head outside a popular pub in February and were sentenced to prison.

"This is a despicable act that you did," Baltimore Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait told the boys, who wore baggy jeans and looked sullen and frightened. "You almost ended lives, and you certainly severely altered lives. I don't know what it was all about, but both of you, you're going to pay a significant price."

John William Fishback, 16, of the 3400 block of Hickory Ave. in Hampden admitted to two counts of first-degree attempted murder and a handgun crime. He received a sentence of 60 years in prison, with all but 30 years suspended.

Fishback's friend, Jason Edward Hunt, 17, of the 2000 block of Druid Park Drive in Woodberry, did not shoot but was accused of the same crimes. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and a handgun crime, and received a sentence of 25 years in prison with all but 10 years suspended.

If they had been found guilty by a jury, the teens, charged as adults, could have received life sentences. They accepted the plea agreements minutes before lawyers began selecting a jury for their case.

Before they were led from the courtroom, the youths apologized to the victims, Michael Langley, who was shot in the head, and Joseph Manson, a bouncer who also was injured. Both were in court.

"I made a foolish mistake," Fishback said. "I'm just glad that [Langley's] alive and can continue on with his life."

Fishback said he accepted "full responsibility" for the crimes, saying that Hunt had "no idea of what was going down that night."

The shooting Feb. 11 was the culmination of a barroom spat inside Gator's Pub in the 5900 block of York Road, a college student hangout near the Senator Theatre.

City prosecutor Twila Driggins told the court yesterday that the boys had entered the bar with fake IDs and were served alcohol. After arguing with some female Loyola College underclassmen, Hunt threatened them, and Fishback flashed a gun that he had in the waist of his pants.

At that point, Langley, 24, a senior, stepped in to try to protect the women, Driggins said. He and other students followed the boys outside the bar. Before Langley realized what was happening, Fishback pressed a .22-caliber handgun to the back of his head and pulled the trigger, the prosecutor said.

Manson, 22, tried to stop Fishback. They struggled, and Fishback fired again, missing. Manson suffered blows and kicks to his head, but retrieved the weapon. The boys ran away and were arrested two days later.

After the sentencing, Hunt's father said he thought his son should not have pleaded guilty.

"He's behind bars for something he didn't do," said Donald Hunt. "He had a part in it, but he didn't pull the trigger."

Manson, who no longer works at Gator's, said he had fully recovered from the assault physically, "but mentally, probably not."

Langley also is physically healthy. His doctor has declared him a medical miracle, Driggins said. He's planning to graduate this spring with a sociology degree, and although he no longer plays on Loyola's basketball team, his game is better than ever, Langley said.

Even so, he and his family are suffering from the shooting in some ways, Langley told the court. The stress on everyone has been "overwhelming," he said. He lost his job, his off-campus apartment and his car. He has had to repeat his senior year and watch his friends move on. But he seemed almost uncomfortable complaining.

"I know I can work harder to get all these things back," Langley said. "Just being able to speak here today, above all, I cherish that every day."

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